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WORLDS OFl SCIENCE FIC»' 



MAY 1952 

35 Cents 




w 



JUNGLE IN 
THE SKY 

By Milton Lesser 



Also WALTER MILLER, Jr. • JOHN JAKE 
CHARLES DeVET • A.S. LOMBINO 



WORLDS OF 


SCIENCE FICTION may 1952 


UpP I^B™r 


All Stories New and Complete 




-§■- 


Publisher Editor 






JAMES L. QUINN PAUL W. FAIRMAN 



NOVEL 

JUNGLE IN THE SKY by Milton Lesser 

NOVELETTE 

INFINITY'S CHILD by Charles V. DeVet 



96 



SHORT STORIES 

WELCOME MARTIANS by S. A. Lombino 
IT TAKES A THIEF by Walter Miller, Jr. 
THE BEAST by John W. Jakes 
RESURRECTION SEVEN by Stephen Marlowe 
DREAMER'S WORLD by Bryce Walton 
THE REVEALING PATTERN by Alvin Heiner 



57 

68 

85 

125 

136 

151 



FEATURES 

EDITORIAL 

PERSONALITIES IN SCIENCE FICTION 

GUEST EDITORIAL by James V. Taurasi 

SCIENCE BRIEFS by Ezra Shaw 

THE POSTMAN COMETH 

Cover by RALPH JOINER 



2 

63 

94 

■119 

158 



IF is published bi-monthly by Quinn Publishing Company, Inc., 8 Lord St., 
Buffalo, N. Y. Volume 1, No. 2. Copyright 1952 by Quinn Publishing Company, 
Inc., Kingston, N. Y. Application for Entry as Second Class matter at Post 
Office, Buffalo, New York, pending. Subscription $3.50 for 12 issues in U.S. and 
Possessions; Canada $4 for 12 issues; elsewhere $4.50. Allow four weeks for change 
of address. All stories appearing in this magazine are fiction. Any similarity to 
actual persons is coincidental. 35c a copy. Printed in U.S.A. 

NEXT ISSUE ON SALE MAY 6TH AT YOUR LOCAL NEWSSTAND 



A chat with, the editor . . . 



^■^■■^ ^^****>~**~^^*^^*^>^-^^*^^-^**-^'^^*^^* ^ ~+*^'^*^,^.^^^t^**^^-****+>. 



^***^^*+-^*-^**+'^ - ^*$ 



A SCIENTIFIC study was recent- 
ly called to my attention in 
which it was concluded that people' 
who can't get up in the morning, 
aren't necessarily lazy. I hailed the 
study with much personal gratifica- 
tion because I have always found it 
difficult to rise and shine with the 
morning sun. In fact, I am such a 
difficult case that I can quote my 
wife as follows: 

"Junior, it's time for breakfast. 
Go up and lead your father down 
the stairs lest he fall and break his 
neck." 

"Junior, show your father where 
his grapefruit is before he starves 
to death." 

After breakfast, I am always the 
last one up from the table. I sit 
thinking of all the logical reasons 
why I should drop dead, until my 
wife says, "Wake up and go to 
work, stupid, or you'll find your 
name scratched off the payroll." 

This dire possibility is usually 
effective, and I drag myself to the 
office, hoping the place has burned 
down. 



AROUND NOON, things get bet- 
ter. I begin to breathe. My heart 
starts fluttering and gradually as- 
sumes an even, steady beat. By mid- 
afternoon I am in pretty good 
shape, and at quitting time, a no 



more bright nor alert individual 
can be found for miles around. Life 
becomes a great adventure; living 
a joy. About midnight, my peak of 
efficiency is reached. Then, around 
three A.M., comes a cry from the 
bedroom: "Get in here and get to 
bed, you nighthawk. You must have 
been born backwards." 

This accusation has always made 
me cringe. The onus of being a mis- 
fit has not been taken lightly. But 
now, along comes this blessed re- 
port, telling me I am not alone — 
that there is a great suffering frater- 
nity of which I have unknowingly 
been a member. 



IT SEEMS there are two kinds of 
people. Those who wake up early 
in the morning at the peak of their 
efficiency and run down gradually 
until bedtime. And their exact op- 
posites, who start in low gear, ad- 
vance to second, and come finally 
into high with every brain cell pop- 
ping. In truth, the members of this 
unhappy clan are out of step with 
everyone else. But it is not a result 
of laziness nor habit. It has to do 
with the structure of their genes, 
and is as inherent as traits of dis- 
position — as impossible to change 
as a cowlick — as deeply rooted as a 
tendency toward baldness. 



The scientific report states that 
persons of this type should reverse 
their living cycle — arise at sunset, 
when their efficiency is at its peak; 
retire when everyone else is going 
to work. Unfortunately the eco- 
nomic scheme forbids this to most 
of us. There aren't enough night 
jobs to go around, and those of us 
who commute would always find 
the trains running in the wrong 
direction. 

BUT science — and not fiction- 
has come to our rescue. We 
aren't lazy and shiftless. We're just 
backwards, and we must wipe the 
stain from our good names. 

Sq arise, Children of the Night! 
Spread the word. The Club for 
Citizens in Reverse is now in the 
making. The first meeting will be in 
your editor's office at four A.M. 
tomorrow morning. 

I THINK our cover this month is 
something to be really proud of. 
When Ralph brought it in I took 
one look at it and got out the office 
bottle — coke of course. We drank to 
the masterpiece and then my trou- 
bles started. With H. G. Wells not 
available, to whom could I assign 
the writing of the lead novel? A 
name flashed automatically. Milton 
Lesser, that dynamic young man 
with the magic typewriter. 

Milt arrived in response to a 
phone call and I showed him the 
cover. He said, "Gosh!" 

"I'd like a twenty-five thousand 
word novel that will do it justice." 
"What's your idea plotwise?" 
"You're the writer, not I." 
"But if it's a stinker it bounces," 
he mused. 



"How true." 

Milt went home and phoned that 
evening. "How do you like 'Jungle 
In The Sky?' " 

"It listens fine. Swell title." 

Milt stopped coming around for 
some weeks. Then one day he wan- 
dered in with a manuscript. 

I made a noise like an editor and 
asked, "Any rubber in it?" 

He grinned like a cat right after 
dinner and stalked out, leaving the 
manuscript in my hands. A couple 
of hours later I called him and said, 
"You forgot your check, genius. 
Want me to mail it?" 

I had just finished reading one of 
the best plotted, smoothest written, 
ably done space yarns anyone ever 
handed me. 



WE ARE EAGERLY awaiting 
comment on the Ray Palmer 
article in this issue. It was one of the 
toughest jobs ever to come my way. 
Even the more so because Ray is 
one of my best friends, and the ar- 
ticle had to be, above all, entirely 
objective. Did you ever try to write 
objectively about one of your best 
friends? It's not easy. But Ray is 
"copy" and the article was scream- 
ing to be written. 

And now that it's in print I can't 
even call Ray and say, "I was only 
foolingj chum." 

Because I wasn't. 



I'D LIKE to tell you about our 
mail and how it was tossed at 
me in one great big lump. You see 
IF lives in Kingston, New York 
with Publisher Jim Quinn, but I'm 
located some fifty miles south in a 
Continued on page 56 




The big man looked at home among his trophies. 




The hunters wanted animals that lived on 
jar Ganymede — though not as badly as the 
animals wanted the hunters. 



Jungle in the Sky 



By Milton Lesser 



THE BIG MAN looked at home 
among his trophies. Somehow 
his scowl seemed as fierce as the 
head of the Venusian swamp-tiger 
mounted on the wall behind him, 
and there was something about his 
quick-darting eyes which reminded 



Steve of a Callistan fire-lizard. The 
big man might have been all of 
them wrapped into one, Steve 
thought wryly, and there were a lot 
of trophies. 

He was the famous Brody Car- 
mical, and rumor had it he was 



worth a million credits for each of 
the many richly mounted heads. 

"So you're fresh out of school 
with a degree in Extra-terrestrial 
zoology," Carmical grumbled. "Am 
I supposed to turn cartwheels?" 

Steve cleared his throat. "The 
Placement Service thought you 
might have a job — " 

"I do, I do. That doesn't mean 
any young pup who comes along 
can fill it. Ever been off the Earth, 
Mr. Stedman?" 

"No." 

"Ever been off the North Ameri- 
can continent?" 

"No." 

"But you want to go galavanting 
around the Solar System in search 
of big game. Tell me — do you think 
they have a Harvard club on every 
stinking satellite you'll visit? Do 
you think you can eat beefsteak and 
drink martinis in every frontier- 
world dive? Let me tell you, Mr. 
Stedman, the answer is no." 

"Try me, sir. That's all I ask — 
try me." 

"We're not running a school, 
Mr. Stedman. Either a man's got 
it or he hasn't. You haven't. Come 
back in ten years. Ship out around 
the Solar System the hard way, and 
maybe we can use you then — if you 
still remember what you learned 
about Extra-terrestrial zoology. 
What in space ever made you study 
extra-zoo, anyway?" 

"I found it interesting," Steve 
said lamely. 

"Interesting? As a hobby, it's in- 
teresting. But as business, it's hard 
work, a lot of sweat, a lot of dan- 
ger, squirming around on your soft 
belly in the muck and mud of a 
dozen worlds, that's what it is. Just 



MILTON LESSER 

how do you think Carmical Enter- 
prises got where they are? Sweat 
and grief, Mr. Stedman." Carmical 
yawned hugely and popped a glob 
of chocolate into his mouth. His fat 
lips worked for a moment, then his 
Adam's apple bobbed up and down. 

Steve got up, paced back and 
forth in front of the desk. "I won't 
take no for an answer, Mr. Car- 
mical." 

"Eh? What's that? I could have 
you thrown out of here." 

"You won't," Steve told him 
calmly. "Maybe I'm just what the 
doctor ordered, but you'll never 
know until you try me. So — " 

"So nothing! I said this isn't a 
school." 

"They tell me the Gordak leaves 
on a ten-world junket tomorrow. 
All I ask is this: let me ship along 
as the zoology man. Then, if you're 
not satisfied, you can leave me 
at your first port-of-call — without 

pay." 

Carmical smiled triumphantly. 
"You know where we space out for 
first, Mr. Stedman? Mercury, that's 
where. I'd love to see a sassy young 
pup like you set loose on Mercury 
in one of the Twilight Cities." 

"Is it a deal?" 

"It sure is, Stedman. It sure is! 
But I warn you, we'll expect per- 
fection. You'll not have a chance to 
profit from your own mistakes. You 
won't have a chance* to make mis- 
takes. One slip and you've had it, is 
that understood?" 

"Yes." 

"I'm not going, of course," Car- 
mical said, patting his great paunch 
and saying with the action that 
he was too old and too fat for 
space. "But I'll hear all about the 



JUNGLE IN THE SKY 

way you were stranded on Mercury, 
among a lot of Merkies and — " 

Steve smiled grimly, said: "No 
you won't. Next time you see me 
will be after the ten-world junket. 
Whom do I ask for on the Gordak?" 

Carmical dialed for a bromo, 
watched it fizz in the glass, drank 
it, belched. "T. J. Moore's in 
charge," he told Steve. "Old T. J.'s 
a mighty rough taskmaster, Sted- 
man. Don't say you weren't 
warned." 

"Thanks." 

"Well, I'll hear about how you 
were stranded on Mercury," Car- 
mical predicted. 

"You'll see me after the ten- 
world junket," said Steve, and 
closed the door softly behind him. 



PIT-MONKEYS scurried about 
the great jet-slagged underside 
of the Gordak, spraying fresh 
zircalloy in the aft tubes. Spaceport 
officers were everywhere in their 
crisp white uniforms, checking car- 
go, giving terse directives to the 
crew of the Gordak, lounging im- 
portantly at the foot of the gang- 
plank. 

"Name?" one of them snapped 
at Steve. 

"Stedman." 

The man flipped through a list 
of the expedition's members. "Sted- 
man, huh? I don't see — oh, here' it 
is, in pencil at the bottom. Last 
minute addition, huh Stedman?" 

"Something like that," Steve ad- 
mitted. 

"Well, climb aboard." 

And then Steve was walking up 



the gangplank and into the cool 
metal interior of the Gordak. His 
palms were clammy, and he won- 
dered if any of the crewmen within 
the ship noticed the sweat beading 
his forehead. He'd managed to 
come this far with, a surprising de- 
gree of objectivity, and only now 
did reaction set in, causing his heart 
to beat fiercely and his limbs to 
grow weak. That T. J. Moore must 
have been spawned in hell, Charlie 
had said — and now Charlie was 
dead. Because of T. J. Moore? In- 
directly, perhaps, but T. J. Moore 
was responsible. Or, if you looked 
at it on a different level, the cut- 
throat competition between Car- 
mical Enterprises and Barling 
Brothers Interplanetary was to 
blame. It didn't matter, not really. 
Charlie was dead. That alone mat- 
tered. 

A big man with incredibly broad 
shoulders, hair the color of flame 
and a florid face to match it, came 
stalking down the companionway. 
Steve said, "I wonder if you know < 
where I can find T. J. Moore." 

The giant smiled. "You crew or 
expedition?" 

"Expedition," said Steve, extend- 
ing his hand. "Steve Stedman's my 
name." 

The hand that gripped his was 
hard and calloused. "I'm Kevin 
McGann, boy. Sort of a liaison man 
between the crew and the expedi- 
tion, only they call me the Exec to 
make everything official. Better take 
some advice — don't look for T. J. 
now. T. J.'s busy doing last minute 
things, and T. J. hates to be dis- 
turbed. Why don't you wait till 



8 

after Brennschluss, when we're out 
in space?" 

"It can't wait. I've got to see 
that Moore knows I'm aboard and 
under what conditions, because I 
don': want to be thrown off this 
ship at the space-station. If Moore 
doesn't like the conditions, Mr. 
Carmical can be called. But after 
we blast off it'll be too late." 

Kevin McGann shrugged. "It's 
only advice I gave you, boy. You'll 
find T. J. down on the third level 
looking over the cargo holds. Good 
luck." And McGann took a pipe 
from his pocket, tamping it full, 
lighting it and staring with frank,' 
speculative curiosity at Steve. 
"Stedman, eh?" he mused. "The 
name's familiar." 

"You think about it," said Steve, 
and made his way toward the third 
level. Perhaps some of them aboard 
the Gordak had known Charlie, 
and McGann, being the Exec, must 
have been around a long time. 

The third was the lowest level 
of the Gordak, or that part of the 
ship nearest the tubes with the ex- 
ception of the fission-room itself. 
Here on the third level were the 
cages which, in the months that 
followed, would hold the big game 
brought within the Gordak. But the 
word cage, Steve realized, can be 
misleading. A rectangular enclo- 
sure, its wall composed of evenly 
spaced bars — that's a cage. But the 
bubble-cages of the Gordak were 
something else again ; precisely as 
the name implied, they were huge 
bubbles of plastic, complete with 
remote-controlled airlocks. You 
could pump in any kind of atmos- 
phere, from Jupiter's lethal meth- 



MILTON LESSER 

ane-ammonia mixture to the thin, 
oxygen-starved air of Mars, and 
under any desired pressure, too. 

And now on the third level a 
battery of experts was busy check- 
ing the bubble-cages for defects, 
since a leak after some noxious gas 
had been pumped into one of the 
bubbles could mean death for 
everyone aboard the Gordak. Steve 
stood there nervously , for what 
seemed a long while. He let his 
gaze rove up and down the third 
level, but he only saw the coverall- 
clad technicians checking the bub- 
ble-cages. Kevin McGann had said 
he could find Moore here, but un- 
less Moore zipped on a pair of 
coveralls himself and joined in the 
work — which certainly seemed un- 
likely — then Moore wasn't around. 



SOMEONE TAPPED Steve's 
shoulder. Startled, he whirled 
around. A woman stood there, just 
behind him, staring at him inso- 
lently. She was tall, as tall as Steve 
himself, with her close-cropped 
blond hair peeking out around the 
edges of a black cap. She wore 
what looked to Steve like a glossy 
black Martian sand-cape which she 
let fall straight down behind her so 
that it almost brushed the floor. 
Under it, she wore a brief pair of 
shorts, also black, and a halter. She 
was muscular in that lithe, feminine 
way which had grown so popular in 
the twenty-second century — the 
century which had finally seen 
women come abreast of men in all 
sporting activities and surpass them 
in some which required special 
grace and lithe-limbed skill. 



JUNGLE IN THE SKY 



"I hope you found whatever 
you're looking for," she said. She 
spoke with a complete lack of 
warmth which startled Steve for 
the second time in a few moments. 

She was a beautiful woman, he 
realized, but she looked so com- 
pletely incongruous among the 
coveralled men that Steve found' 
himself whistling softly. "I never 
expected to find a girl here," he 
admitted. "Not on this expedition." 

"What's the matter, are you old 
fashioned? This is the twenty-sec- 
ond century, the enlightened cen- 
tury, remember? There's nothing a 
girl can't do if she sets her mind 
to it. A recent survey shows that 
forty-percent of the homemakers in 
the U.S.N.A. are men, sixty per- 
cent women. Okay, it's only logical 
that some of the remaining forty 
percent of females have some tough 
jobs, too." 

"I read the books of the feminist 
movement," Steve assured her. 
"But it's going to take a lot to con- 
vince me of that. Me and a lot of 
other people, I suspect." 

"Is that so, Mr. Smart-guy? Are 
you a member of the expedition?" 

"Yes." 

"Well, anytime you want to 
hustle down to the gym with me 
and go a few rounds, let me know." 

"Are you serious?" 

"Of course I'm serious." 

"Well," Steve said, deciding to 
change the subject and feeling ut- 
terly ridiculous about the whole 
conversation, "let's forget it. I was 
looking for T. J. Moore." 

The woman smiled coldly. 
"That's me. I'm T. J. What do you 
want?" 



"I— uh— what? You're T. J.? 

You— a girl?" 

"Will you please hurry with 
whatever you want to tell me? I 
haven't got all day." 

"My name's Stedman." Steve 
felt his composure returning. The 
fact that T. J. Moore was a woman 
didn't make any difference. But 
unconsciously, Steve regarded her 
as a member of the weaker sex, and 
a large chunk of her fearsome 
reputation vanished because of it. 
"I wonder, if Mr. Carmical con- 
tacted you—" 

"He sure did, Stedman." 

"Good, then we can — " 

"Maybe you think it's good. I 
think it stinks. Listen, Stedman, 
maybe you think you can pull the 
wool over my eyes like you did over 
Brody Carmical — but you can't. He 
didn't recognize your name, I did. 
No kid brother of Charlie Sted- 
man's going to make trouble for me 
because he thinks I was responsible 
for his brother's death." 

"I didn't say—" 

"You didn't have to say. I can 
see it in your face. But get this 
straight, Stedman. Your brother 
died on Ganymede three years ago 
— of natural causes, that is, if you 
can call some of the local fauna 
'natural causes'. He worked for 
Barling Brothers Interplanetary, so 
I guess the rivalry between them 
and us didn't help. But no one 
killed him." 

"I didn't say—" 

"Is that all you can say, 'you 
didn't say?' Try to tell me why you 
came aboard the Gordak; go ahead, 
try." 

"I'm an expert in Extra-terres- 
trial zoology, and you needed one. 



10 

Mr. Garmical hired me." 

"I know that. 'But I guess I also 
know a thing or'two which Brody 
Carmical doesn't. All right, Sted- 
man. You come as far as Mercury. 
But one slip, just one slip—" 

"Okay, T. J.," Steve said, almost 
jauntily. "I'll watch my step." 

"I'm the Gordak's captain. You'll 
call me that. Captain— is it clear?" 

"No," said Steve, and laughed. 
The ten-world junket would be a 
hard, driving, gruelling ordeal come 
what might, and he wouldn't kow- 
tow to T. J. Moore, male or female, 
here at the beginning. "No," he 
said again, forcing the laughter out. 
"This isn't a military ship, so you 
won't impose any arbitrary dis- 
cipline on me." 

The woman laughed too, but it 
was more effective. "I won't, won't 
I? Once we leave Earth, Stedman, 
everything we do is dangerous. ' 
Everything. I've got to have full 
authority, every order obeyed at the 
drop of a hat. Understand?" 

"No." 

The woman removed the black 
cap from her head, and Steve no- 
ticed, not without surprise, that her 
pale blond hair wasn't close- 
cropped after all. It had been piled 
up inside the cap, and now it 
spilled down loosely about her 
shoulders. Smiling, she dropped the 
cap to the floor. "Pick it up," she 
said. 

"Are you kidding? I'm an expert 
on Extra-terrestrial zoology. That's 
what Mr. Carmical hired me for. 
If you want that hat picked up, 
better do it yourself." Vaguely, 
Steve wondered if Charlie had met 
the woman those final days on far 
Ganymede, had fought with her 



MILTON LESSER 

tooth and nail for some priceless 
specimen — and lost, with no wit- 
ness but the bleak, desolate topog- 
raphy of the Jovian moon. 

The woman turned away from 
him, called: "LeClarc! LeClarc, 
come here." 



ONE OF THE coveralled fig- 
ures approached them, a 
thick-thewed man whose muscular 
strength couldn't be hidden by the 
baggy clothing. Not as tall as Steve 
or the woman, he was broad of 
shoulder and thick through the , 
chest. He had a dark face and 
deep-set black eyes, and a thin 
scar ran the length of his fight 
cheek, from eye to chin. "Yes, Cap- 
tain?" 

"Stedman here is new. He ques- 
tions my authority. I wondered if 
you'd like to work him over 
some—" 

"A pleasure," growled the stocky, 
gnarled Frenchman, arid swung his 
right fist up in a quick, blurring 
motion. 

Steve didn't have time to parry 
it. The blow caught him flush on 
the mouth and jarred his teeth, 
sent him crashing back; against the 
wall where he slid down slowly 
until he was sitting on the floor. 
Groggily, he got to his feet, wiping 
his bloody lips with the fingers of 
one hand. LeClarc, chuckling, hit 
him once more before he could 
quite pull himself together. The 
right hand slammed against his 
stomach this time, driving the wind 
from his lungs. 

He started to fall, but he clawed 
at LeClarc's middle as he went 



JUNGLE IN THE SKY 

down, and held on. Still chuckling, 
LeClarc cuffed him about the ears 
almost playfully, but the open- 
palmed blows stung him and sent 
wild rage coursing through his 
blood. Clearly, that was the idea. 
LeClarc was enjoying himself — but 
LeClarc wanted him to fight back. 

Steve got a hand up in front of 
his body, palm up, and drove it 
against the Frenchman's chin. He 
felt the neck snap back sharply, 
heard the sudden click as LeClarc's 
teeth met with savage force. Bel- 
lowing, the Frenchman came at 
him again, fighting southpaw and 
bringing a roundhouse left from 
back behind his body. 

But Steve's wind had returned 
and now he sobbed air in great 
gulps. He ducked the wild swing 
and found the Frenchman wide- 
open, pounded lefts and rights to 
the man's midsection. LeClarc, 
stunned now, brought his guard 
down. Steve was in no hurry. He 
chased the dazed LeClarc around 
an ever-widening circle, was dimly 
aware that the other technicians 
had stopped their work to watch. 
He jabbed with his left hand, cov- 
ering the olive face with purple 
welts. He held the right cocked but 
did not throw it. Soon, though, he 
could hear the other technicians — 
who probably liked a good brawl 
• — muttering. The idea, as they saw 
it, wasn't to cut LeClarc up com- 
pletely but instead, to win swiftly. 

Shrugging, Steve realized that 
the anger he felt for the woman had 
blinded him, and after that, he un- 
leashed his right hand, felt the 
searing contact with LeClarc's jaw, 
saw a couple of teeth clatter off 
the wall as the Frenchman's mouth 



IT 

flew open. Sagging first at the 
knees, then the waist, LeClarc fell 
to the floor and huddled there in- 
ertly. 

Steve turned to the woman, spoke 
out of fast-swelling lips. "You're 
the Captain and I only work here, 
Teejay," he made the initials sound 
like a name. "So I'll take your or- 
ders—provided they make sense. 
That one about the cap didn't. If 
you want it picked up, you'd better 
stoop for it yourself." 

Not looking back, he climbed the 
stairs toward the second level, wip- 
ing his bloody lips with a handker- 
chief. 



IT WAS Kevin McGann who 
showed him around the Gordak 
after Brennschluss. Newton's sec- 
ond law of motion carried the ship 
forward through the near-vacuum 
of space now, and it would continue 
that way, plowing ahead at seven 
miles per second until it was caught 
and slowed by the space-station's 
gravity. There the bunkers would 
be reloaded with slow-fission plu- 
tonium for the long dash sunward 
to Mercury. 

". . . and through there you'll 
find the fission-room," Kevin was 
saying. "That's about the size of it, 
boy. But I warn you to keep away 
from the fission-room long as that 
red light is blinking. Everything in- 
side gets pretty hot, and there's 
enough radiation to kill an army 
unless the shields are up. Even 
then, I'd recommend a vac-suit." 

"I'll remember that," Steve said, 
lighting a cigarette. 

"Word gets around a ship like 



12 

the Gordak pretty fast. I didn't see 
your fight with LeClarc, but I sure 
heard enough about it. There's only 
one man aboard ship who can beat 
the Frenchman in a fair fight, 
and—" 

"You?" Steve wanted to know. 
But it was hardly a question. It 
looked to him like Kevin could take 
on two LeClarcs with no trouble 
at all. 

"Yes, boy. Me. But now there 
are two of us, and you've made 
yourself an enemy. LeClarc doesn't 
forget easy, so you'd better be on 
your guard." 

"I'll remember that, too," said 
Steve, laughing. "But it looks like 
you keep warning me about some- 
thing all the time, Kevin. Why?" 

"You're Charlie Stedman's kid 
brother, aren't you?" 

"Yeah. Yeah, but how did—" 

"How did I know, boy? It's writ- 
ten all over your face, and Charlie 
may have been with Barling Inter- 
planetary, but a lot of us knew him. 
Charlie was the best, boy." 

"Thanks. Kevin, how did Charlie 
die?" 

The giant shrugged eloquently. 
"I don't know. It was T. J. who 
found him out on Ganymede. She 
was out tracking an anthrovac, and 
you don't track anthrovacs in 
crowds. Well, it seems Charlie had 
landed for Barling, and Charlie had 
the same idea." - 

"He never told me Teejay was 
a woman, but he said once she 
must have been reared in hell." 

Again, Kevin shrugged. "It's 
open to question, boy. I don't like 
T. J., but I like working for her. 
You take a man like LeClarc, he'll 
die for T. J. All she'd have to do is 



MILTON LESSER 

ask him, and he'd die. You see, boy, 
big game hunters don't come any 
smarter. Trouble is, T. J. knows it 
and flaunts it. Also, she's a woman 
but she's strong as a man and 
knows that, too. She dares you to 
fight her every step of the way, and 
it takes a big man to — " 

"I thought you said Charlie was 
the best!" 

"And I still do. But a man's got 
to have some flaws. Maybe he 
couldn't take T. J. and had to let 
her know. The same thing hap- 
pened to you, after only five min- 
utes. The gals have won their spurs 
in every field which was strictly 
masculine a hundred years ago. 
Men' tend to resent that, especially 
when a talented woman like T. J. 
let's them know it, and no bones 
about it. So, that's T. J." 

"Yeah," said Steve, frowning. 
"That's Teejay." 

"What's the trouble, boy?" 

"I've got to find out what hap- 
pened to Charlie, that's all. But 
Teejay's going to be a problem." 

"The grandmother of all prob- 
lems, you mean. With all of that, 
though, she can still be all female 
when she wants to be. Maybe 
Charlie fell for her—" 

"Charlie falling for that cheap, 
no good — " 

"Careful, boy. She's my Captain, 
and a good one. I wouldn't ship 
out on the Gordak if I didn't think 
so. Careful." Then Kevin smiled. 
"You'll learn, in time. Anyway, 
Charlie was a good-looker and at- 
tractive to the girls, he was roman- 
tic — so maybe T. J. fell for him, 
too. Then they had a parting of the 
ways and — " 

"Sure!" Steve exploded. "Sure, 



JUNGLE IN THE SKY 

they fell in love or something only 
Charlie forgot to mention in any 
of his letters she was a woman. 
You're barking up the wrong tree, 
Kevin." 

"Maybe. Maybe not. I'm only 
talking off the top of- my head, boy. 
But it's worth considering." Kevin 
jabbed a thick finger against his cal- 
loused palm. "What I'm getting at 
is this, whether they made love or 
not, I don't think T. J. would kill 
anyone out of cold blood." 

"I'll think about it," said Steve, 
and then a whistle shrilled through 
the length of the ship. They were 
nearing the space-station, half as 
far from Earth as Luna, and de- 
celeration came upon them grad- 
ually and would continue to in- 
crease until they all had to bed 
down in the accel-hammocks for 
landing. 

Unexpectedly, Teejay herself 
was checking in the members of the 
expedition as their two-hour stop 
oyer at the station drew to an end. 
As he approached her along the 
gangplank, Steve looked down and 
saw the station-men wheeling the 
small but tremendously heavy plu- 
tonium bunkers under the ship, 
each compact unit weighing a cou- 
ple of tons with its concrete shield- 
ing- 

"Well, Stedman," said the wom- 
an, the broad black sand-cape 
wrapped around her completely 
now, as if only the members of her 
crew had the right to see what lay 
beneath it, "I see you've never 
watched a ship getting ready for 
blastoff." 

"That's right," Steve admitted. 
"First trip out." 



13 

"You want some pretty sound 
advice? I'd suggest you stay here 
at the station and wait for the first 
Earthbound ship." 

"Thanks," said Steve. "But Mr. 
Carmical hired me at least as far 
as Mercury, so that's where I'm 
going." 

Teejay grinned. "You're a plucky 
kid, Stedman. All right, Mercury 
it is — but LeClarc can do the 
honors when it's time to see you off 
the Gordak for good. He doesn't 
exactly like you, Stedman." 

"I've been told that." 

"All right, move along. There's 
a whole line of men I've got to 
check in behind you." 

A plucky kid, Steve thought, and 
laughed. She'd called him that, al- 
though he knew she'd probably 
have a hard time matching his 
twenty-five years. Well, she'd spent 
her life in space and on the frontier 
worlds. Maybe that did make a dif- 
ference. 

Five minutes later, they blasted 
clear of the space-station on an 
orbit that would intersect the Mer- 
curian ellipse at perihelion. . From 
there, the Gordak would visit 
Venus, Mars, the planetoid Ceres, 
the four large Jovian moons. Titan 
and Uranus. Ten worlds in all the 
hunters would touch on — and each 
world would offer up its native 
fauna for the Brody Carmical Cir- 
cus. Steve wondered if there'd be» 
trouble with Barling Brothers In- 
terplanetary. There generally was. 
But then he smiled without mirth, 
for the chances were he'd never get 
beyond the first landing on Mer- 
cury, anyway. 



14 

THERE WERE fifty men in the 
Gordak's crew and another 
thirty-odd in the expedition, and a 
space ship being the complicated, 
labyrinthine device that it is, it 
wasn't too strange that Steve failed 
to encounter LeClarc until im- 
mediately before landing on Mer- 
cury. Then the Gordak's decelera- 
tion tubes had cut in and Steve 
found the most readily available 
accel-hammock in the general 
lounge. The Frenchman was 
stretched out on the cushions three 
feet from him. 

LeClarc said, "This will be a ter- 
rible, hot place." 

"I know. At perihelion, Mer*- 
cury's not much more than thirty 
million miles from the sun." If the 
Frenchman wanted to bury the 
hatchet, fine. 

LeClarc strained to raise himself 
on his elbows against the increasing 
deceleration. "Sure," he said, "a 
hot place. After you foul up, Sted- 
man, my vote will be to leave you 
on the hot side instead of giving 
you passage to the twilight zone." 

The Frenchman was being il- 
logical and pointlessly childish. "I 
didn't ask you to fight with me," 
Steve told him. "Why don't we for- 
get all about it?" 

"If you want to, forget. I, Le- 
Clarc, never forget." 

"By space, LeClarc — " the voice 
came from the other side of the 
lounge " — then you're a spoiled lit- 
tle child." It was the big Exec 
officer who spoke, Kevin McGann. 

LeClarc did not answer. Kevin 
winked at Steve, then set his face 
grimly against the bone-crushing 
deceleration. Fifteen minutes later, 
they landed at Furnacetown. The 



MILTON LESSER 

names of the new frontier settle- 
ments, Steve thought with a grin, 
were as picturesque as the names of 
the old Wild West towns. 

There was a huge, priceless 
matrix of ruby far below the sur- 
face near Furnacetown, and the 
frontier settlement existed to mine 
from it. But the place was named 
aptly, for here on the hot side of 
Mercury, the temperature was hot 
enough to melt tin and lead. A 
community of half a thousand 
hearty souls, Furnacetown shielded 
itself from the swollen, never-setting , 
sun with a vacuum-insulated dome 
and a hundred million credits 
worth of cooling equipment. Even 
so, the atmosphere within the dome 
was a lot like New Orleans on a 
sultry summer day. 

The mayor of the town, a man 
named Powlaski, met them at the 
landing field. "It's hot," said Tee- 
jay, offering her hand and shaking 
with the plump official, man-fash- 
ion. 

"It's always hot, Captain Moore. 
At any rate, be happy that you've 
beaten Barling here this time." 

"Oh, did we? Good. We'll 'need 
three asbestos suits, Powlaski. I 
never did trust plain vac-suits on 
the sunward side of this boiling 
mess of a planet. Say, has anyone 
got a cool drink? I'm roasting." 

Someone wheeled out a portable 
refrigerator and the synthetic gin- 
and-orange stored therein tasted to 
Steve's thirsty lips almost like the 
real thing. Then LeClarc, who had 
ventured into one of the squat 
buildings with Powlaski's lieu- 
tenant, a middle-aged woman, re- 
turned with three heavy asbestos 
suits draped ponderously over his 



JUNGLE IN THE SKY 

arm. Their combined weight was 
perhaps two hundred pounds, but 
it became negligible under Mer- 
cury's weak gravity. 

"We're ready," he said, extend- 
ing one of the suits to Teejay and 
helping her slip it on over her shorts 
and halter. This was the first time 
that Steve had ever seen her with- 
out the black cape, which seemed 
a sort of affected trade-mark. 

"Three suits?" Steve demanded. 
"What for?" 

"The third one's for you, Sted- 
man," the woman told him. "I 
know your job is to see that the 
game stays alive- in our bubble- 
cages, but I don't think it would 
hurt if you had a look-see at the 
stone worm in its own environ- 
ment." 

"That's not what I meant," Steve 
told her. "Why LeClarc?" 

Teejay shrugged, zipping up the 
suit. "Because I said so, that's why. 
Also, LeClarc's something of an ex- 
pert on the inner planets and he 
goes wherever I do, anyway." 

"Sort of a bodyguard," the 
Frenchman purred, strapping a 
neutron gun to the belt of his as- 
bestos suit. "Hey, who's got those 
helmets?" 

And then Steve felt them slip- 
ping the thick, clumsy helmet over 
his head. Kevin stood nearby and 
the Exec looked like he wanted to 
say something, but Steve's helmet 
had snapped into place and from 
that point he could only talk by 
radio — and over the crackling in- 
terference of the swollen sun, at 
that. 

Moments later, he'd stepped 
through an airlock at the side of 
the Eurnacetown dome and 



15 

plodded out on the surface of Mer- 
cury. 



ON VENUS there was the thick, 
soupy atmosphere and the ver- 
dant tropical jungles. On Mars, the 
rusty desert and the ruins of an 
eon-old civilization. But on Mer- 
cury you knew at once that you 
trod upon an alien world. At peri- 
helion, the sun swelled to almost 
four times its size as seen from 
Earth, and because Mercury's ten- 
uous atmosphere had boiled off into 
space half a billion years ago, the 
sky was black. The sun had lost its 
spherical shape, too. Great solar 
prominences licked out at the 
blackness, and the visible corona 
seemed to swell and pulse. 

Underfoot, Steve could feel the 
crunchy ground powdering beneath 
his asbestos boots with every step. 
And far off toward the horizon, a 
jagged ridge of blood-red moun- 
tains bit at the black sky like fester- 
ing, toothless gums. 

Before long, Teejay's voice sang 
in Steve's earphones. "Over here, 
you boys." And Steve could see her 
crouching, shapeless in the loose 
asbestos suit, off to his left. The 
sun's heat had parched a long, 
snaking crack in the surface and 
Steve lumbered over to it clumsily, 
letting his shadow fall across the 
crevice. "Those stone worms are 
umbra-tropic," he called, and 
waited. 

"I don't wonder," said Teejay, 
looking up at the sun through the 
smoked goggles of her helmet. 

The stone worms, Steve knew, 
were attracted by darkness — hence 



16 

they generally dwelled in the deep- 
est crevices, although a man's 
shadow might bring them to the 
surface. He'd never seen a stone 
worm, but he'd read about them 
and seen their pictures. 

"You'll see something very un- 
lovely," Teejay predicated. "The 
stone worm isn't a carbon-basic ani- 
mal, but a silicate creature with 
a sodium-silicon-nitrogen economy. 
It's about four feet long and kind 
of like some ghastly white slug. It 
— hey, Stedman, get on your toes!" 

The worm was coming. 

It poked its head up out of the 
crevice first, and then the slug-like 
body followed, curling quite in- 
stinctively until the whole thing 
lay in Steve's shadow. Four feet 
long and a foot across at tile mid- 
dle, it looked like the product of 
nightmare. The head was one 
huge, lidless, glassy eye — with a 
purple-lipped mouth where the 
pupil should have been! The mouth 
opened and shut like that of a fish, 
but when Steve lifted the monster 
by its middle and brought it out 
into the sun, the lips puckered com- 
pletely shut and the white slug be- 
gan to thrash dangerously. 

But under the influence of the 
sun's heat it soon subsided. Trouble 
was, Steve thought vaguely as they 
made their way back toward Fur- 
nacetown with the quiescent mon- 
ster, the sun's heat did not subside. 
Probably, it was his imagination, 
but the sun had seemed to become, 
if anything, stronger. He looked at 
the others, but they merely walked 
forward, completely unconcerned. 
Maybe he'd tired himself subduing 
the stone worm, for he knew that 
might seem to intensify the heat. 



MILTON LESSER 

Inside his asbestos suit, Steve be- 
gan to sweat. It did not start slow- 
ly, but all at once the perspiration 
streamed down his face and body. 

It was then that his left leg be- 
gan to burn. Down below the knee 
it was, a knife-edged burning sensa- 
tion which became worse with each 
passing second. Someone had 
heated a knife white-hot, had ap- 
plied its sharp point to the nerve- 
endings of his leg — and then 
twisted. It felt like that. * 

Screaming hoarsely, Steve fell, 
watched through burning eyes as 
the stone worm commenced crawl- 
ing laboriously away. I<^was Le- 
Glarc who went after the worm and 
retrieved it, but Teejay knelt at 
Steve's side and, surprisingly, real 
concern was in her voice when it 
came over the radio. 

"What's the trouble, Stedman?" 

"I don't know," Steve gritted. 
"I'm hot all over — and my leg feels 
like it's on fire. Yeah, right there— 
ow) — go easy!" 

Teejay frowned or at least Steve 
guessed she frowned by the way she 
spoke. "There's nothing much we 
can do about it, Stedman. Seems to 
be a hole — just a pinprick, but a 
hole — in the asbestos. It's a wonder 
you weren't screaming bloody mur- 
der before this. How's the air?" 

It was getting hard to breathe, 
Steve realized, but dimly, for his 
senses were -"receding into a fog 
of half-consciousness. Something 
hissed in his ears and he knew Tee- 
jay had turned the outside dial of 
his air-pump all the way over. It 
made him feel momentarily better, 
but the pain still cut into his leg. 

"I've got the worm," said Le- 
Clarc. "But what happened to 



JUNGLE IN THE SKY 

him?" He asked the question inno- 
cently — too innocently. 

Teejay didn't answer. Instead: 
"Can vou walk, Stedman?" 

"I— I don't think so." 

"Then I'll carry you. But remem- 
ber this: if we get you back all 
right, you can thank the twenty- 
second century feminist movement. 
Can you picture an old-fashioned 
gal slinging a man over her shoul- 
der and toting him away to safety 
like a sack of grain? Here we go." 

And she got her arms under 
Steve's shoulder, tugging him up- 
right and swinging him across her 
back in a fireman's carry. He felt 
in no mood to question her motive, 
but he could sense the triumph in 
her as if she had said, "See, I'm as 
strong, as a man, and don't you for- 
get it." _ 

In spite of himself, he couldn't 
help responding to the unspoken 
challenge. "Sure," he said, "I can 
thank the feminist movement, but 
more than that I can thank Mer- 
cury's light gravity, Teejay. We're 
lucky I don't weigh more than fifty 
pounds here." 

An hour later they arrived back 
at Furnacetown, buf by then Steve 
was unconscious from the pain. 



"TJOW ARE YOU feeling, 
X JL boy?" It was Kevin Mc- 
Gann, the battered, unlit pipe 
clamped tightly between his teeth 
as he spoke. 

Steve sat propped up in a bed in 
the Gordak's infirmary, his left leg 
wrapped in bandages from knee to 
ankle. "Pretty good, I guess. Kind 
of weak, but there's no pain." 



17 

"You're lucky the Captain got 
you back here in time. Four inches 
of your calf was cooked third de- 
gree, but she carried you back here 
soon enough to cut it away before 
deep decomposition, and spray on 
syntheplasm. You'll be as good as 
new in a week, and no scar, either. 
Thanks to the Captain, boy." 

"Yeah," Steve admitted. "Sure. 
But what I want to know is this: 
how did it happen?" 

Kevin shrugged his massive 
shoulders. "I won't make any ac- 
cusations, boy, not without positive 
proof. But I took the liberty to 
examine your suit, and it looked to 
me like someone had punctured a 
small hole almost all the way 
through. The heat did the rest." 

"You mean LeClarc?" i 

"I never said that. But LeClarc 
was the one who got the suits, so 
he — more than anyone— was in a 
position to do something like that. 
Further than that I won't carry it. 
This is not an accusation." 

"Suits me," Steve told him. "And 
thanks, Kevin. But after this, 
Frenchie had better watch his step. 
Are we out in space again?" 

"Yes. Passed Brennschluss forty- 
eight hours ago." 

"What?" 

"Sure. They had you doped up 
for two days, till the syntheplasm 
had a chance to set." 

"How soon can I get out of 
bed?" 

"Depends. If you don't mind 
hobbling around on crutches, today 
probably. If you want to wait till 
you can walk, four or five days. 
What's your hurry, boy?" 

"I've got to take care of that 
stone worm, remember?" 



18 

"Say, that's right! No one knew 
what to do, so they suspended it 
in a deep freeze until you could go 
to' work. A hideous brute, I might 
add." 

"Will you ask the doctor to give 
me some crutches? Swell. First, 
though, I'd like a good meal. And 
listen, Kevin— I guess Teejay saved 
my life, at that. Want to tell her 
I'd like to see her?" 

"Of course," said Kevin, and left 
the white-walled infirmary, grin- 
ning from ear to ear. 

By the! time Teejay arrived, Steve 
was eating his first solid meal in 
two days. "Hello," he said. He 
almost found himself adding, "Cap- 
tain" — but he checked the impulse 
just in time. 

"McGann tells me you're ready 
to get to work today." 

"That's right." 

"Good. That stone worm won't 
stay in ice indefinitely — not when it 
lives on the sun-side of Mercury." 

"Teejay, I want to— well, I want 
to thank you for saving my life." 

The woman opened her cape, 
reached inside, took a pack of ciga- 
rettes from an inside pocket and 
puffed on one until it glowed. 
"Don't thank me," she said coolly. 
"It really isn't necessary. You're the 
only extra-zoo man aboard, Sted- 
man, so we needed you. I'd have 
saved a valuable machine under the 
same circumstances." . 

"Well, thanks anyway." 

"There's one thing more, Sted-- 
man. As far as I'm concerned, you 
haven't proven yourself yet. So the 
same conditions apply to our next 
landing point." 

"Where's that?" 

"Venus, of course. Do you think 



MILTON LESSER 

I want to play hop-scotch all over 
the Solar System? Well, you finish 
your meal and give that stone worm 
a nice comfortable bubble to live 
in." And Teejay departed. 



LATER, AFTER he'd evacu- 
ated the air from one of the 
bubble-cages and increased the 
temperature to seven hundred de- 
grees Fahrenheit, after he'd super- 
vised a slow warming process for 
the worm and seen it deposited, 
still drowsy, in the bubble with suf- 
ficient quantities of silicon-com- 
pounds to keep it well fed, Steve 
hobbled with his crutches to the 
general lounge. Teejay sat there 
with half a dozen of the Venusian 
experts, for the hunt would be 
much more protracted on that 
teeming jungle-world. The woman 
stood up at once and crossed the 
floor to Steve. "How's the worm?" 

"Fine." He always felt a little 
edgy and on his guard when the 
woman spoke to him. 

"And how's the extra-zoo ex- 
pert's bum leg." 

"Coming along, I think." 

Teejay turned to the six men 
seated around the lounge, said: 
"This is Steve Stedman, our extra- 
zoo man — at least temporarily 
Stedman, Phillips knows more 
about amphibians than any man 
alive, Ianello is our aboreal expert, 
Smith ferrets out the cave-dwelling 
mammals — we hope, Waneki goes 
floundering around after sea-mon- 
sters, St. Clair is — " 

Then something buzzed shrilly 
on the adjacent wall, and Teejay 
flipped a toggle switch. "Captain 
here." 



JUNGLE IN THE SKY 



19 



"Radio from Earth, Captain. 
Mr. Brody Carmical himself." 

"Is that so?" said Teejay, her 
eyebrows lifting. "Give me a cir- 
cuit." And, a moment later, 
"What's the trouble, Brody?" 

The big man's voice came 
through faint and metallic over 
more than fifty million miles of 
space. "Plenty, T. J., Barling de- 
cided to start in the middle this 
year. Some of our — er, contacts told 
us his ship's rocketing for Gany- 
mede, and fast. You'll have to get 
there first if you can, naturally." 

"We'll get there," said Teejay, 
quite grim, and cut the connection. 

Steve had time to think one 
thought before he was swept along 
in the general rush, crutches and 
all, after the woman galvanized 
into activity. She might take orders 
from Brody Carmical, but she even 
had a way with the big man, mak- 
ing him cow to her — perhaps un- 
consciously. 

Teejay was yelling and pointing, 
it seemed, in all directions at once. 
"Hey you, Ianello, shake a leg down 
to the fission-room and tell 'em to 
start straining. Smith, get me Kevin 
McGann on the intercom. Waneki, 
you can forget all about those 
Venusian sea-monsters and tell the 
docs to be ready for plenty of ac- 
celeration cases. You better bed 
down right now, Phillips, you're not 
as strong as the rest of us, not with 
sixty years of junketing behind you. 
Hello, McGann? Listen, Mac, I 
want the entire crew assembled in 
General inside of ten minutes. 
Yeah, expedition too. Everyone but 
those boys down in fission. And tell 
your orbit-man to figure a way to 
get us off this trajectory and on a 



quick ellipse from here to the Jo- 
vian moons. Yes, that's what I said 
— the Jovian moons." 

She paused long enough t® take 
a breath and turn to Steve. "Well, 
Stedman, we'll be dropping down 
over your brother's grave on Gany- 
mede before you know it. Maybe 
then you'll be able to remove that 
chip from your shoulder." 

"Me? From my shoulder? Sister, 
you've got things backwards." 

But the woman pivoted away, 
and Kevin's voice bleated over the 
intercom : "Crew and expedition — - 
all to general lounge on the double! 
You boys in fission stay put, Cap- 
tain's orders. This is urgent." 

Almost before Kevin's voice had 
stopped echoing through the cor- 
ridors, LeClarc popped into the 
lounge. "You wanted me, Captain? 
May I help?" 

"I wanted everyone. Everyone 
can help. Just sit still till the rest 
of 'em get here." 

LeClarc appeared hurt, but he 
took a seat in glum silence. In twos 
and threes the members of the crew 
began to drift in, wild rumors cir- 
culating among them in whispers. 
Finally, LeClarc counted noses and 
told his Captain that everyone ex- 
cept the fission crew was present. 

Teejay nodded, stepped to the 
center of the floor. She removed her 
cape and dropped it, discarding it 
so suddenly and yet with such a 
polished flourish that a complete 
silence fell upon the large room 
almost at once. 

She paced back and forth, her 
bare, lithe limbs flashing under the 
green-glowing wall panels. "You've 
all come to know that cape," she 
said, her voice strident and alive. 



20 

"It's a sort of affectation I have. 
But it's not necessary. Like every- 
thing that's not necessary, it must 
be discarded, at least temporarily. 
Men, we're in serious trouble." 

Just like that, inside of a few seC» 
ohds, she had them eating out of 
the palm of her hand. She went on 
to say that Barling's ship had al- 
ready blasted off from the Earth 
for Ganymede, how,, unless their 
efforts here on the Gordak were 
Herculean and then some, Barling's 
ship would reach Ganymede first. 
"And you all know what that 
would mean," she continued. "Like 
the elephant of two centuries ago, 
the Ganymeden anthrovac is the 
one solid necessity for any circus 
sideshow. But the anthrovacs have 
a way of going into hiding when 
they're disturbed. So, if Barling 
gets to Ganymede first, we've had 
it. We can all start looking for jobs 
after that, do you understand? I 
want full acceleration from here to 
Ganymede, as soon as we can get 
the new orbit plotted. Nothing 
but the immediate problem — to 
reach the Jovian moons before Bar- 
ling — nothing else matters. If I tell 
you to work two shifts and go with- 
out sleep one night, you will do 
that. If I decide that a man must go 
beyond the shieldings in fission, he'll 
climb into a vac-suit and hope for 
the best. It's going to be like that, 
men, and I can't help it. I crack 
the whip and you jump. Any ques- 
tions?" 

She stood dramatically, hands on 
hips, somehow poised on tip-toes 
without straining, a tall, impressive 
and quite beautiful figure. . 

"Yes," said one of the orbiteers.. 
"I have a question. Can I get to 



MILTON LESSER 

work on the new orbit at once?" 

There were hoarse shouts of ap- 
proval, some applause and a scat- 
tering of deep-throated laughter. 
Steve watched Teejay walk off her 
improvised stage, complete master 
of the situation. If it were humanly 
possible for the Gordak to reach 
Ganymede before Barling, they'd 
do it. 



IN THE WEEKS which followed, 
Steve learned something of what 
the big Exec officer had meant that 
first day he had spoken about Tee- 
jay. She drove her men relentlessly 
and some of them may have re- 
sented it. But she drove herself as 
well, and once when a crewman 
had gone beyond the shieldings to 
repair the mechanical arms which 
regulated the flow of powdered 
plutonium fuel from the bunkers 
and had emerged with a serious 
case of radiation sickness, Teejay 
donned a vac-suit and went in her- 
self to finish the job. 

Most of the men liked her. Some, 
frankly, did not. But all of them 
knew they served under a captain 
as good as any. 

Two days before landing on 
Ganymede, Teejay gathered her 
chief lieutenants for a final- plan- 
ning session. Kevin was there, and 
LeClarc, and a tall, wraith-thin 
man with a bushy head of white 
hair named Simonson, and Steve. 
Teejay spread a chart out and 
peered down at it intently. "This is 
Ganymede Northeast," she said, in- 
dicating the circled, central area of 
the map. "It is here that, for some 
reason, the anthrovacs gather. And 



JUNGLE IN THE SKY 

here inside the circle is an area of 
one thousand square miles which 
Mr. Simonson has marked off — yes, 
Stedman, the red square. We'll be 
operating there. If the Barling ship 
has landed ahead of us, we can as- 
sume the same for them." 

Teejay paused to light a ciga- 
rette, then crushed it out after her 
first puff. "The darn smoke gets in 
my way when I try to think," she 
smiled, and went on, "Anyway, 
here's the square. We'll be using 
the crew and the expedition — 
everyone aboard ship— because 
we're in a hurry. Simply put, we'll 
be a bunch of beaters to drive the 
anthrovacs together at the center 
of the square. Then, well, then it's 
up to Mr. Simonson and Stedman. 
Any questions?" 

"Yes, Captain," said LeClarc. 
"Just how do we get the anthro- 
vacs aboard ship?" 

"Don't ask me. But you might 
ask Mr. Simonson." 

The bushy-haired man named 
Simonson grunted. "Umm-mm. 
There are several ways. We could 
set up elaborate traps, such as 
Thorndyke employed two years 
ago, and — " 

"Can't," Teejay objected. "No 
time." 

"Why don't we just clobber 
them?" LeClarc suggested. "A few 
might die, but we'll get the speci- 
mens we want." 

Steve shook his head. "You don't 
know your anthrovacs. Chase them 
and they'll try to run away. But 
hurt them — just hurt one of them 
so the rest of them can see — and 
they'll swarm all over you until 
either all the men or all the an- 
throvacs are dead, or both. No, 



21 

there's another way." 

"What's that?" Teejay leaned 
forward, chin cupped in hands, 
definitely interested. * 

"Anthrovacs are non-breathers. 
Most gasses won't hurt them, but 
you can give them a good, old-fash- 
ioned oxygen jag with the slightest 
whiff of pure oxygen." 

"I've heard of that," Simonson 
said. 

"Sort of like getting them drunk, 
isn't it, boy?" Kevin wanted to 
know. 

But LeClarc wasn't satisfied. "I 
still say we ought to clobber them. 
We can't waste time experimenting ' 
with any crazy jags." 

"It's no experiment," Steve told 
him coldly. "It works." 

"I still say we ought to — " 

"Clobber them, I know," Teejay 
finished for him. "If there's any 
clobbering to be done, LeClarc, I'll 
let you know. Meanwhile, we're 
trying Stedman's plan. Any further 
questions?" 

And, when no one spoke : "Good. 
Mac, I want you to let Mr. Simon- 
son and Stedman pick three men 
to help 'em. You're to divide the 
rest of us into groups of half a 
dozen each, with each group serv- 
ing under a leader. I'll give each 
leader a designated area in that, 
square, so there won't be a lot of 
bumbling around when we land on 
Ganymede. LeClarc!" 

"Yes, Captain?" 

"Take yourself a group of threie 
idle technicians and check all the 
vac-suits. If there's any trouble, 
make sure it's repaired before we 
land. What are you gawking at me 
like that for?" 

"I only thought—" 



h 

"What? What did you think? 
Speak up, man!" 

"I thought you would have a job 
of more import for me. Had you, 
for example, decided that we ought 
to clobber- — " 

"Clobber, clobber, clobber! Will 
you shut up and get to work?" 

"Yes, Captain." And more than 
a little stooped of shoulder, LeClarc 
left the lounge. 

Teejay didn't pause for breath. 
"You, Stedman! What's so funny? 
What are you laughing about?" 

"Nothing. It's just the way Le- 
Clarc—" 

"Forget it, before you get clob- 
bered." 



GANYMEDE. 
After the landing, an unrea- 
soning fear gripped Steve tightly. 
It wasn't anything he could put his 
finger on, but he felt it gnawing at 
the fringes of his mind, probing, 
seeking, thrusting for a way in. 
There was nothing to be afraid of, 
and Steve smoked one cigarette 
after another while the six-man 
parties disembarked to take up 
their beater-stations on the edges 
of the square. , 

Ganymede, he recited to himself, 
is the largest satellite in the Solar 
System. 664,200 miles from Jupiter, 
it has a diameter of thirty two hun- 
dred and six miles, or bigger than 
the planet Mercury and almost as 
large as Pluto. It swings around 
Jupiter in a little over seven Earth 
days and in appearance the moon- 
scape's enough like Luna to be a 
twin-brother, except for fat, bloated 
Jupiter hanging in the sky. 



MILTON LESSER 

What was there to be afraid of? 
Steve didn't know. His brother had 
died on Ganymede — and the cir- 
cumstances of Charlie's death still 
bordered on the mysterious. Well, 
he'd see for himself about that. Did 
the fear crawl around the edges of 
his brain because he thought Tee- 
jay was responsible? But that didn't 
make sense, for to a certain degree 
he'd thought that all along. Unless 
the appalling thought of having to 
fight Teejay and her whole loyal 
crew had taken hold of him un- 
consciously. 

"What are you moping about, 
boy?" 

"Huh? Oh, Kevin. Nothing 
much, I guess. I- — " 

"You look to me like you've seen 
a ghost. What is it, scared?" 

"Yeah. Yeah, I guess so." 

"So what? Buck up, boy." 

"I don't want to be scared, 
Kevin." 

"Who does?" 

"That's not what I mean. It's 
one thing to say that if you 
aren't — " 

"Who isn't? Don't look at me, 
boy. And didn't you watch all the 
men trooping outside with the 
blood drained from their faces, and 
their eyes sort of big and too bright 
behind the face-plates? We're all 
scared." 

"But why?" 

"Mean to say you spent so much 
time on zoology and forgot about 
other things? Like, for instance, 
Ganymede-fear ?" 

"Huh? How's that?" 

"Everyone is afraid, Steve. 
Everyone. Whenever a man gets 
near Ganymede, he suddenly be- 
comes afraid. It's some sort of a 



JUNGLE IN THE SKY 

psychological or maybe para-psy- 
chological phenomenon and none of 
the medicos could ever figure it out. 
It isn't the kind of fear that para- 
lyzes, boy, but still, it holds on all 
the time a man's on Ganymede and 
it doesn't leave until he blasts off 
again. Didn't you ever hear about 
that?" 

"No. That is, I knew it happened 
somewhere, but I forgot where." 

"Well, that's all there is to it, 
boy." ' 

"All! Don't you think it's 
enough? Something lurks out there, 
something makes people afraid, and 
we've never been able to find out 
why, but you say — " 

Teejay came up and smiled at 
them, but there was something grim 
about her smile. "You can always 
tell when someone comes to Gany- 
mede for the first time. He's jump- 
ier. Just relax, Stedman. By the 
time they start beating the anthro- 
vacs in toward the Gordak you'll 
be feeling better — and raring to go 
« to work with that oxygen-jag stunt 
of yours, too." And she added, "Say, 
have you been watching your stone 
worm?" \ 

"He sure has," Kevin told her. 
"He took me down there yesterday 
and that worm's been growing fat 
on all the sand he's fed it. Sand — 
for food, that's what the worm eats. 
Imagine how that would settle the 
over-population problems on Earth 
if people, too, could eat sand." 

"Yes, and then—" Teejay was 
speaking again — but words, just 
words, and Steve stopped listening. 
It occurred to him all at once that 
they were engrossed in their mean- 
ingless conversation for one reason 
only — to keep the fear from their 



23 

minds. If you thought about some- 
thing else, the fear would retreat 
at least in part, and if you could 
hold a conversation about every- 
thing and nothing, that was even 
better. 

Steve almost jumped off the floor 
when a metallic voice blared forth 
from the loudspeaker, echoing and 
re-echoing in the near-empty room. 

"Captain! Captain, this is Moret- 
ti, Group Seven." 

"Go ahead, Moretti," Teejay 
said into the mike. "I'm listening." 

"Who the devil's on radar. Cap- 
tain?" 

"Why — no one! We forgot." 

"There's a ship coming dqwn. 
We can see it plain as day out 
here." 

"What ship?" Teejay asked soft- 
ly, but they all knew the question 
was totally unnecessary. 

Moretti's voice jumped an octave 
as he cried: "It's Barling!" 



WITHIN TEN minutes, all 
the beaters had been called 
in. Barling's big ship, the Frank 
Buck, snorted back and forth an- 
grily on its landing jets. 

"Are they gonna land or ain't 
they gonna land?" someone said as 
Kevin broke out the neutron guns 
and saw that every third man had 
one. 

"Depends on their boss," said 
Kevin. "If he figures we can be 
scared off, he'll land. Otherwise, 
maybe he'll go away." 

"Not that little stinker," Teejay 
told him. "Not Schuyler Barling. 
He won't go away. Will the fact 
that we're here first matter? It will 



24 



MILTON LESSER 



not, for Schuyler knows we can't 
prove it. You ought to know better 
than to hope for that, Kevin. No, 
we can figure that Schuyler will 
move in on us." 

"What happens then?" Steve de- 
manded. 

Teejay shrugged her bare, beau- 
tiful shoulders. "That I don't know. 
Schuyler may be a stinker and may 
be predictable, but he's not that 
predictable. Hey, it looks like the 
Frank B^ick is coming down!" 

The big ship, Steve saw, was do- 
ing precisely that. Its jets had been 
cut, and the ship fell like a stone. 
Twice its length separated it from 
the rubble-strewn pumice when the 
pilot kicked his jets over again, and 
something seemed to slap the Frank 
Buck back up toward the starry sky. 
The result was a first-rate landing. 

"That would be Schuyler show- 
ing off," said Teejay wearily. "He 
must have been born in a tube and 
weaned on jet-slag, and he sure lets 
you know it." 

Fifteen minutes later, Schuyler 
Barling and three of his officers en- 
tered the Gordak. 

Barling got out of his vac -suit 
first, a tall, handsome man of about 
thirty, with short-cropped blond 
hair, pale blue eyes and petulant 
lips. "Captain Moore," he said, 
bowing slightly from the waist. 
Making fun of Teejay. 

"Mr. Barling." As ewer, the wom- 
an seemed cool and unruffled. 

"With us," said Schuyler Barling, 
"it's in the family. I work for my 
father. Obviously, it means some- 
thing to me whether he succeeds or 
not. But you, Captain Moore, 
you're a hired hand. You work for 
Brody Carmical, on a paycheck. 



Therefore, your loyalty could not 
possibly be as strong as mine, 
and—" 

"Get to the point!" \ 

"We arrived here on Ganymede 
almost simultaneously. One of us 
will have to leave." 

"It didn't look simultaneous to 
me. 

Barling ignored her. "Yes, one 
will have to leave, because the an- 
throvac is frightened off easily and 
unless a hunt is carried on with the 
utmost precision and timing, no 
one will catch any anthrovacs." 

"Go on," said Teejay. She spoke 
quietly, but Steve knew the woman 
well enough to realize her temper 
was coming to a boil, inside. 

"My Frank Buck got here first," 
Barling told her blandly. "There- 
fore, you will leave." 

"That's a stinking lie!" Teejay 
cried. "We were here first and you 
know it." 

"Who can prove it? The Frank 
Buck landed first." Barling's hand 
flashed down to his waist, came up 
gripping a neutron gun. "If we 
have to, we'll force you to leave." 

Teejay stood with hands on hips, 
facing him. "I know I'm not con- 
ducting myself like a lady, but then, 
this is the twenty-second century," 
she said, smiling' — and struck out 
with her balled right fist. It 
bounced off Barling's jaw with sav- 
age force and the man stumbled 
back against the wall and crashed 
to the floor, his neutron gun clat- 
tering away. Barling shook himself, 
tried to rise. He got to hands and 
knees, then fell forward on his face. 

Teejay whirled on his officers. 
"All right, get him out of here! 
Come on, move." 



JUNGLE IN THE SKY 

THE THREE men looked at 
each other. None of them did 
anything. 

"You see, boy?" said Kevin, grin- 
ning. "That's our Captain and we'll 
fight for her. She won the beauty 
pageant five years ago in Ceres- 
town, and she can fight like a man. 
She's a woman for the stars, and 
we're proud to—" 

"Shut up," said Teejay. "That 
won't get us anywhere." 

By now, Barling had stirred, had 
come up, dazed, into a sitting posi- 
tion. He rubbed his jaw, winced. 
"Assuming we return to our ship, 
we still won't leave Ganymede. Not 
without our anthrovac." 

"Nor will we." 

"But you had to hit me! You 
had to flaunt your — " 

"No one told you to draw your 
gun." 

" — flaunt your Amazonian prow- 
ess." 

"Stop sniveling, Schuyler. I 
think we'll have to reach some sort 
of a compromise, but I'll dictate 
terms, not you." 

"Yes?" Barling growled up at 
her. "Who says we'll obey?" 

"Oh, get up off the floor! You 
look so silly, sitting there and rub- 
bing your chin. 

Barling stood up, retrieving his 
gun but holstering it. Kevin 
watched him, toying with his own 
weapon — not pointing it at anyone 
in particular, but tossing it back 
and forth idly from hand to hand. 

"Give us twenty four hours," said 
Teejay. "We'll look for our anthro- 
vac. In that time, none of your men 
is to leave the Frank Buck. After 
that, you get twenty four hours, and 
we're confined to the Gordak. Then 



25 

us, then you. And so on, till one of 
us gets his anthrovac. Then he pulls 
out and the other is left here. Is it 
a deal?" 

Barling considered, said : "Well, 
yes — with one change. We get the 
first twenty four hours." 

"No." 

"Then you can forget your deal, 
Captain Moore." 
. "Well, then let's togs for it." Tee- 
jay reached into a pocket of her 
cape, flipped a coin to Steve. 
"Here, Stedman. You toss it." 

"Who gets to call?" Barling de- 
manded. 

"Do you, want to?" 

"Well—" , 

"Good. Then I will. Ladies first, 
you know. Go ahead, Stedman." 

Steve tossed the coin, and Teejay 
cried: "Heads!" 

Palming the coin, Steve flipped it 
over on the back of his left hand, 
peered at it. Staring up at him was 
the metallic likeness of Angus Mac- 
Namara, first man to reach the 
planet Mars. "Heads," said Steve, 
and one of Barling's officers came 
over to verify it. 

Barling shook his head stubborn- 
ly. "How do I know it isn't a phony, 
a two-headed coin?" 

Teejay glared at him. "That's in- 
sulting, Schuyler." 

"Well, I'd like to look at it. How 
do I know — " 

"You don't. But I said it's insult- 
ing. So, if you want to see the coin, 
you'll have to fight me!" 

"Never mind," said Barling, 
climbing into his vac-suit. "You get 
first try." And all of them garbed in 
their vac-suits once more, the men 
of the Frank Buck departed. 

"Get those beaters out again!" 



26 

Teejay was calling into her micro- 
phone, and Kevin grasped Steve's 
arm, said: 

"Go ahead, boy. Look at the 
coin." 

Steve did. It had two heads. 

And later, Teejay said to him: 
"Listen, Stedman. All the beaters 
are out now, but frankly, I don't 
trust Schuyler." 

Steve said he did not blame her, 
and Kevin was there to nod his red 
head. 

"So, Stedman, the beaters have 
their jobs to do. That's almost 
everyone. But temporarily at least, 
it leaves you and Mac here with 
nothing to do." 

"That's true," said Kevin. 

"But not for long, Mac. Schuyler 
may try something, I don't know 
what. You two are probably the 
strongest men on this ship. I know 
what you can do, Mac — and I saw 
a sample of Stedman at work when 
he had that little run-in with Le- 
Clarc. All right: you two hop into 
a couple of vac-suits. That is, if 
Stedman's ready to fight for us if 
he has to — " 

Steve chuckled. "I don't go ; 
around carrying two-headed coins, 
Teejay, but I know a rat when I 
see one. I'll go, and your friend 
Schuyler better not try anything." 
Almost, he was surprised at his 
own words. Teejay had a way of 
commanding respect,, and if he 
didn't watch himself, he'd be talk- 
ing like Kevin soon. Well, perhaps 
the woman merited it. . . . His 
thoughts took him that far, and 
then he remembered Charlie. "I'll 
go," he said again, almost growling. 

"But you still have a chip on your 
shoulder — well, never mind. I'll ex- 



MILTON LESSER 

pect quarter-hourly reports from 
you two." 

"You'll get them," said Kevin, 
and climbed into his vac-suit. 



INCREDIBLY, Steve found him- 
self out on the bleak, desolate 
surface of Ganymede, walking with 
Kevin past the long, silent length 
of the Frank Buck. And here, out- 
side the confining walls of their 
spaceship, the Ganymede-fear 
seemed stronger. Steve felt it as 
something palpable, clutching at his 
heart and constricting it, bringing 
sweat to his forehead and clouding 
the inside of his helmet with mois- 
ture. 

Fear — of what? 

Not of the frontier world itself, 
surely. Not of some unknown men- 
ace lurking out among the crater- 
lets and ringwalls. No, for while 
Ganymede was not yet as familiar 
as Mars or Vemis, mankind still 
had explored it extensively. There 
were the strange anthrovacs, ani- 
mals which looked like over-sizec] 
and less brutish gorillas but which 
were not protoplasm creatures and 
which took their energy directly 
from sunlight and cosmic radiation. 
But that was all — no other life 
existed on Ganymede, and the an- 
throvacs on their frigid, airless 
world were something of an oddity. 

Then what caused the fear? And 
was the fear responsible in any way 
for what had happened to Charlie? 

"Hey, Steve — snap out of it!" 
Kevin's voice, floating in thinly on 
the intercom. 

"Huh? Oh, yeah, Kevin. Sure. 
It's that fear, sort of gets you out 



JUNGLE IN THE SKY-^ 

here. You can't help it." 

"I know. A ship seems to cut it 
off to some extent, boy. But it's 
around, lurking, waiting to get 
you." 

"What do you mean, waiting to 
get w>u?" 

"Well, not directly. But it makes 
you make mistakes. Men have died 
that way- — paying so much atten- 
tion to the fear that they didn't pay 
enough attention to whatever was 
happening." 

"Kevin, do you know anything 
about how Charlie died you haven't 
told me?" 

"Maybe. Maybe not. It's kind of 
vague, boy. Teejay went out alone 
and when she came back — why, she 
looked scared. That's common 
enough on Ganymede — everyone 
looks scared. But Teejay looked 
puzzled and confused also, and 
that's not like her. She wouldn't 
talk much for a time, and when she 
did she just said she'd found 
Charlie Stedman, your brother, 
dead." 

"Where?" 

"What do you mean, where? Out 
here on Ganymede, naturally." 

"No, I mean exactly where. 
What was done with the body?" 

"That I don't know," said Kevin, 
and Steve could picture him frown- 
ing inside his helmet. 

"Well — listen, Kevin! Do you 
hear something?" 

"Hear something? How can you 
hear anything on Ganymede, with 
no air to carry it? Except on the 
radio, of course. I hear you, but get 
a grip on yourself, boy." 

"No. I hear something. There it 
is, louder. My God, Kevin! My 
God — " And clumsily in his vac- 



27 

suit, Steve began running away 
across the pumice. 

"Hey, come back! Back here, you 
crazy fool — " Kevin charged after 
him, taking long, ungainly strides 
.in the light gravity. But Steve was 
quicker and soon the distance be- 
tween them increased and Kevin 
realized he wouldn't be able to 
overtake Steve at all. 

"Come back! What do you hear, 
boy? At least tell me that." 

Steve told him, and ran on. 
Amazed, Kevin lumbered back to- 
ward the Gordak. 

"But what made him do it?" 
Teejay demanded, later. 

"I told you all I know, Captain. 
He said he heard something and 
started running. I chased after him, 
couldn't catch him. He told me 
what he heard." 

"What?" 

"Well, you won't like this, be- 
cause it doesn't make sense. But he 
said he heard his brother — calling 
him. Charlie Stedman, calling." 

"Charlie Stedman is dead." Sud- 
denly, Teejay was curt, pre- 
emptory. 

"That's what I thought, too." 

"Forget it. It's the Ganymede- 
fear, Mac. Somehow it got to Sted- 
man stronger than it got to most 
people. Maybe his brother was hit 
that way, too. Maybe, right now, 
Stedman is off his rocker, running 
out across the pumice somewhere, 
shouting his brother's name into the 
soundless void of space." 

"We'll have to find him," said 
Kevin. 

"How can we, Mac? He's got air 
for five or six hours, and Ganymede 
is big." 

"I'm going to take a set of shoul- 



28 

der-jets and go looking for him, 
Captain. I hope you won't try to 
stop me. I'm going either way." 

Shrugging, Tee jay went to a cab- 
inet, handed Kevin a pair of 
shoulder-jets, which he strapped at 
once to his vac- suit. The woman 
took another suit and another pair 
of jets. "Once I heard voices out 
here on Ganymede, too," she said. 
"So did Charlie Stedman. They 
killed Charlie and they almost 
killed me. Enough's enough, Mac. 
I'm going with you." 



THE RINGWALL was not very 
large. Slowed by his vac-suit, a 
man might cover its diameter in 
half an hour. But Steve did not 
traverse the circular area. Instead, 
he climbed the ringwall laboriously 
and then made his way down, tum- 
bling and sliding, to the rocky floor 
of the shallow crater. 

The voice came from within it— - 
from within the crater. It could not 
be! He told himself that more than 
once. The rock of Ganymede itself 
might carry sound, but you'd feel it 
only as a throbbing through the 
soles of your boots, for the vacuum 
of space which encroached on all 
sides could not transmit sound- 
waves. 

That was science.' That was ele- 
mentary. But the voi.ce whispered 
in his ears, ebbing and flowing, first 
loud, then soft — and science be 
damned. 

Charlie was calling. / am Charlie 
Stedman. I am Charlie Stedman — - 
That was all, but it was enough. 
Charlie's name, and Charlie's voice. 

"It can't be happening," Steve 



MILTON LESSER 

said, aloud, and heard his own 
voice roaring inside the helmet. It 
drove the other voice, the impossi- 
ble voice, out for a moment, but it 
returned. Around the inner' circum- 
ference of the ringwall Steve ran, 
seeking a source for the impossible. 
Sobbing, stumbling, he plunged 
ahead. It was only when he re- 
turned to his starting point, a 
needle-like pinnacle of rock, that he 
realized his supply of air would be 
exhausted in three hours. 

"He couldn't have gone much 
farther than this, Mac." 

"We've got plenty of air, Cap- 
tain. I'm not giving up — " 

The two figures soared on spurt- 
ing jets a hundred feet above the 
surface of Ganymede. When Teejay 
went higher every few moments, 
she could barely, make out the two 
spaceships, far away to the left. Oc- 
casionally she saw the beaters work- 
ing in teams of six, cumbersome 
tanks of oxygen strapped to their 
backs. 

"Did you hear the voice, Mac?" 

"No." 

"Had Stedman been drinking?" 

"That's ridiculous. The boy was 
with us, and you saw for yourself." 

"True. And I've said that the 
voices of Ganymede are no stran- 
gers to me, anyway. Maybe I was 
trying to rationalize." 

"We'll see when we find Steve." 

"If we find him. The fear can 
make you do crazy things out here, 
Mac. Like going for too long with- 
out sufficient oxygen." 
. "That's what I'm worrying 
about." 

A phonograph needle caught in 



JUNGLE IN THE SKY 

one groove, spinning out its brief 
message over and over again — that 
was the, voice. / am Charlie Sted- 
man. And the ringwall might have 
been the record, Steve thought bit-' 
terly, except that it was utterly de- 
serted. He hadn't covered its entire 
rock-strewn area; an army of 
searchers would be necessary to do 
that. But he had seen enough to 
convince him that — 

The thought fled. 

Coming toward him over the 
floor of the ringwall was a huge 
anthrovac, walking erect with a 
shuffling gait. Charlie's voice grew 
louder. 

"It's no good, Mac. We can't 
find him." 

"As soon as, we turn back he's as 
good as dead." 

"Our air won't last forever," 
Teejay said. 

"He's got even less." 

"Ten more minutes?" 

"All right, ten. But why did you 
come out here with me if you're 
ready to give up so easy?" 

"Who said I am? I'm trying to 
be practical, Mac. Listen, I saved 
Stedman's life once already — and 
stayed out on the hot side of Mer- 
cury longer than a person should, 
too. I like Stedman, but if we ever 
find him, better not say that or I'll 
break your neck, hear? So I want 
to find him, but I don't want to 
sacrifice your life or mine in the 
attempt. Is that clear?" 

Kevin said that it was. 

A moment later, Teejay climbed 
higher. Half a thousand feet above 
the surface of Ganymede she cir- 
cled. Abruptly, she leveled off pX a 
hundred feet again, said: 



29 

"There's something over there, 
Mac. In that ringwall." 

"What?" 

"I don't know. Movement. A big 
figure and a little one. The big one 
seems too large for a man, but the 
smaller — well, 'let's go." 

The anthrovac paused a dozen 
yards from Steve. There had been 
nothing hostile in its movements to 
begin with, and now it might have 
been a„ statue for all the activity it 
displayed. From crown of head to 
small, handlike feet, it stood almost 
a yard taller than Steve, but it did 
not have the great-muscled girth of 
a gorilla. Instead, it looked quite 
manlike, except for the incredibly 
broad shoulders, the thick, matted 
hair covering its entire body, the 
too-long arms, the nine feet of 
height. 

Did the voice emanate from it? 

Now that the creature had ap- 
proached him, Steve wasn't sure. 
The voice continued, pulsing and 
throbbing in his ears like the Gany- 
mede-fear itself — but in his ears. 
Not from the bleak terrain around 
him, and certainly not from the an- 
throvac. 

"I'm going crazy," he said, aloud, 
driving the voice away temporarily. 
"No. No, I'm not, because I re- 
alize it too soon. A crazy man 
doesn't realize it and doesn't warn 
himself, about it — certainly not at 
the outset." But did that mean the 
voice had any real existence? How 
could it? 

/ am Charlie Stedman. . . 

Smiling bleakly, Steve picked up 
a loose chunk of rock, tossed it a't 
the anthrovac. The creature merely 
swung its huge body gracefully at 



30 

the hips, avoiding the missile. Then 
it stooped, found a stone for itself, 
hurled it at Steve. He ducked, feel- 
ing completely and tremendously 
foolish. He should have been pre- 
pared, for the anthrovacs are play- 
ful and can mime almost any hu- 
man action. 

He did not duck in time. He felt* 
the stone thunk against his helmet, 
peered with horror at the glassite 
inches from his face until he saw 
that it hadn't cracked. Grinning 
now, he shook his fist at the crea- 
ture, watched it duplicate the mo- 
tion with its great hairy hand. It 
was' a game, Steve told himself, »a 
left like the meaningless conversa- 
tion Teejay and Kevin had had to 
dispell the Ganymede-fear. 

But if the anthrovac could mime 
human actions, perhaps the anthro- 
vac could also mime voices! That 
would necessitate telepathic powers, 
naturally. But the anthrovac, like 
many denizens of terrestrial forests 
and tundras, changed its habits im- 
mensely in captivity. A captured 
anthrovac, one which had been 
reared with one of the circus 
troupes, could never tell you what a 
wild anthrovac was like. And a wild 
anthrovac, somehow living on air- 
less Ganymede and taking its energy 
directly from cosmic and solar ra- 
diation, might be able to do any- 
thing. 

/ am Charlie Stedman. . . 

Steve carried the thought to its 
logical conclusion. Suppose an 
anthrovac — this anthrovac which 
faced him now — had somehow 
heard Charlie speaking. Charlie 
might have been introducing him- 
self to someone: "I am Charlie 
Stedman." 



MILTON LESSER 

But the hypothesis wasn't much 
more than a bubble, and it burst 
completely when Steve remembered 
he was the only one who could hear 
the voice. 

"Hey, Stedman! You trying to 
kill yourself?" 

Steve whirled, looked up. Two 
figures, no more than vaguely hu- 
man in their cumbersome vac-suits, 
hovered over him, jetting around in 
circles. The anthrovac had seen 
them too — and now, apparently 
alarmed by the twin forms floating 
just out of reach, the creature 
turned and bounded away over the 
uneven terrain. 

"What gave you that idea?" 
Steve called into his intercom. "The 
anthrovac wasn't looking for 
trouble." 

"I don't mean that, stupid." Tee- 
jay had a way of jarring him back 
to reality with a few words. "I 
mean, how much air have you 
left?" 

Steve looked at the gauge. 
"Enough to return to the Gordak, 
provided I get on my horse." 

"We'll walk with you, then," 
said Teejay, and dropped to the 
ground at his side. "I think I'll hold 
onto your arm, too. You're liable 
to go wandering again, and we 
might not be able to find you." 

Kevin alighted, switched off his 
jets. "How about the voice, boy? 
Do you still hear it?" 

"Why — no! But I did a minute 
ago, until the anthrovac ran away." 

"That's peculiar." ■ 

"There's a lot that's peculiar out 
here on Ganymede, Kevin. I 
think—" 

"Stop thinking and start walk- 
ing," Teejay told him. 



JUNGLE IN THE SKY 

Less than two hours later, they 
reached the Gordak. A vac-suited 
man met them at the airlock, and 
Steve saw LeClarc's face through 
the glassite helmet. 

"I'll bet you were worried," said 
Tee jay. 

"Sure," LeClarc answered, draw- 
ing a neutron gun from his belt. 
"See, my Captain, I'm so worried 
I can hardly think straight. Will 
the three of you please turn around 
and march over to the Frank 
Buck?" 

They were too stunned to do any- 
thing else. 



""TAON'T MIND ME," Kevin 
J—/ said, within the Frank Buck. 
"If I'm confusefd it's merely because 
I can't believe this. Not you, Le- 
Clarc, not you." 

They'd been ushered into the 
main lounge of the Frank Buck, a 
ship of about the Gordak's dimen- 
sions, but two or three years older. 
LeClarc stood there with his neu- 
tron gun, watching them carefully. 
In a few moments, Schuyler Barling 
joined them, a greasy salve covering 
the discoloration on his jaw. The 
jaw looked painfully swollen too, 
and Barling rubbed it speculatively. 
"I won't forget this," he growled 
briefly to Teejay, then turned to 
LeClarc. "Kevin McGann I know, 
but what about this man?" 

"Stedman?" said LeClarc. 
"You'll want him, because he's the 
extra-zoo man on the Gordak. If 
you took McGann and the woman 
alone, they still might be able to do 
their work on Carmical's ship. But 
with Stedman your prisoner as well, 



31 

their hands are tied over there." 

"What is this?" Teejay de- 
manded defiantly. "What's the 
meaning of — " 

"Will you be quiet and let me do 
the talking?" Barling interrupted 
her. "It was LeClarc who radioed 
and told me your coin had two 
heads. If you wanted to play the 
game that way, I wasn't going to 
stand by and let you. So — " 

"So," LeClarc took up the thread 
for him, "we got together, Mr. Bar- 
ling and I." 

"But you, LeClarc," said Kevin. 
"You'd jump through a fire-hoop 
into a pit of acid if Captain Moore 
told you to." 

"Would I?" LeClarc chuckled 
softly. 

"Yes. Yes, you would." 

"Perhaps there was a time I'd 
have done that, McGann. Perhaps. 
But then I thought the Captain 
needed me, and wanted me to help 
her, too. Now, with you and Sted- 
man — well, LeClarc isn't so impor- 
tant, is he?" 

"So that's it!" Kevin roared. 
"You're jealous. Not jealous the 
way a man should be, when he 
loves a woman, but jealous because 
you believed Captain Moore had 
discarded you — had decided you 
weren't such an essential cog in the 
Gordak machine." 

"Shut up." LeClarc took a quick 
step toward Kevin and hit him, 
hooking his left fist at the bigger 
man's jaw. Kevin staggered but 
did not go down. Bellowing, he 
charged at LeClarc, but the 
Frenchman waved him off with the 
neutron gun. 

"Stop it, LeClarc!" Barling 
snapped. "I didn't have you bring 



32 



MILTON LESSER 



them here to make a shambles of 
the lounge. Just stand off in the cor- 
ner — that's right, there — and watch 
them. I'll do the talking." 

"You realize, of course," Teejay 
told him calmly, "that this is kid- 
napping." 

"Is it? Who is to say? You never 
entered the Gordak; LeClarc met 
you within the airlock. For all your 
crew knows, the three of you are 
out on Ganymede somewhere — • 
with not much air left. After a time, 
they'll have to give you up as dead. 
With the Captain gone, and the 
Exec, and the expert on Extra-ter- 
/ restrial zoology — their expedition 
won't amount to much. It looks to 
me like old man Carmical will be 
without a circus this year, unless he 
resorts to a strictly terrestrial shin- 
dig." 

"What happens then?" Teejay 
wanted to know. 

"Well, I'll be frank with you. I 
haven't decided. I can't simply re- 
turn you to civilization, of course." 
-. "Of course," Teejay echoed him 
acidly. 

"Then you'd be able to holler 
'kidnapper'. It would seem that you 
give me only one alternative. Ah — 
excuse me a moment." 

A trio of men had entered the 
lounge and the leader, a stocky man 
of about thirty-five, was beaming. 
"We've got three," he said. 

"Splendid, splendid. In that case, 
nothing remains to keep us on 
Ganymede." 

"Chief, I'm sure glad of that. 
This place can give you the hee- 
bies, and you never know why. 
Those three anthrovacs should be a 
fine core to build your circus 
around, though." 



"Three anthrovacs?" Teejay 
cried, her composure fading for the 
first time. "You've got three an- 
throvacs?" 

Barling nodded. "LeClarc here 
was good enough to tell us Sted- 
man's plan. A first-rate idea, as you 
can see, only we were able to carry 
it out. Frankly, I wasn't sq optimis- 
tic at first." 

"Let's get back to us," Teejay 
suggested. "You were saying . . .?" 
'< "Umm-mm, yes. There's only 
one alternative, and much as I re- 
gret—" 

"What is it? What's the alterna- 
tive?" 

"Please, must I say it? I think 
you know, and there's no need for 
me to — " ' 

"No, I want to hear it." 

"Suit yourself," said Barling. 
"The only solution is this: we'll 
have to eliminate you." 

"When?" 

"The sooner the better. But Cap- 
tain Moore, you're making me 
feel—" 

"That's all I wanted to know!" 
Teejay cried, and hurled herself at 
Barling. "We might as well try to 
escape while we still have a 
chance." 



AFTER THAT, things hap- 
. pened almost too fast for 
Steve to follow. Kevin got the idea 
at onee, charging at LeClarc before 
the Frenchman had time to gather 
his wits. The neutron gun hissed 
violently, searing a three-inch 
chunk out of the ceiling. But then 
LeClarc was struck by two hundred 
pounds of Kevin McGann, and 



JUNGLE IN THE SKY 

went down before the onslaught. 

Something exploded against 
Steve's jaw and he did a quick flip 
and landed on his back. He'd hard- 
ly had time to declare himself in the 
battle, when one of Barling's men 
had jumped him. Now the man 
came down atop him, flailing with 
both fists, but Steve chopped at his 
face with short, clubbing blows and 
scrambled to his feet while the man 
caught his breath. 

Steve didn't wait, plunging to- 
ward the man with murder in his 
eyes — and failed to reach him. An 
arm circled his neck from behind 
and he was dragged to the floor 
again, by the second of the three 
anthrovac hunters. He rolled over, 
saw Kevin and LeClarc off to his 
right, standing toe-to-toe and slug- 
ging. And beyond them, Teejay was 
cuffing Barling around the lounge 
with lusty, man-sized blows. Barling 
went down under the onslaught, 
falling at the woman's feet, but 
then the third hunter had grasped 
her swirling black cape from be- 
hind, throwing it over her head and 
tripping her. She fought blindly as 
she went down, taking the hunter 
with her; and with Barling, they 
became a tangled melee of thrash- 
ing arms and legs. 

Steve rolled out from under the 
second hunter, but the first one met 
him halfway and pole-axed him 
down to the floor again with a hard 
right hand. Sobbing, clutching at 
the man's legs, Steve began to pull 
himself upright and got a knee in 
his face. He went down again, and 
this time everything in the room re- 
ceded into a vague, shadowy fog. 

When Steve could see again, 
there was still no order to the chaos. 



33 

He hadn't lived a violent life like 
Kevin or Teejay — such things were 
not part of his background, al- 
though he'd boxed in college and 
won the light-heavyweight cham- 
pionship, too. But there was some- 
thing different, something elemen- 
tal about a free-for-all brawl. 

LeClarc lay on his back, supine. 
He looked out of it for the duration, 
which still set the odds at four to 
three against the trio from the Gor- 
dak. Right now Kevin held his own 
with the two hunters who'd done 
Steve in, at least temporarily. But 
that couldn't last, for both were big, 
muscular men. And Teejay? She 
was a woman, so perhaps the- odds 
were even worse. Steve smiled grim- 
ly as he clambered to his feet to 
help Kevin. Teejay was a woman, 
but she was the new twenty-second 
century woman, and proud of it. 
The third hunter kicked and 
thrashed helplessly on the floor as 
she held him in a head-scissors and 
a{ the same time fended off Bar- 
ling-who was crawling around them 
and looking for an opening. Teejay, 
definitely, was an asset. 

Steve got to hunter number three 
quickly, pulling him off Kevin and 
straightening him with an upper- 
cut. After that, it was a set-up. 
Steve pounded once and then again 
with his left hand at the man's mid- 
section, then finished by crossing his 
right and feeling it crunch against 
the man's jaw. 

"Now I see how you could take 
care of LeClarc that first day!" 
Kevin yelled, and promptly pol- 
ished off the other hunter with a 
blow that lifted him completely off 
the floor. 

As one, they whirled around to 



34 

face the other side of the room. 
Barling and his henchman had fi- 
nally got the upper hand. Teejay 
lay on her side, her hands behind 
her back. Not unconscious, she was 
completely spent, and an almost 
equally exhausted Barling was at- 
tempting to tie her hands with the 
black cape. The hunter sat there, 
dull-eyed, watching them. It was 
Kevin who lifted the hunter and 
hurled him away, and when Steve 
rolled Barling over and pushed him 
against the wall, the man did not 
resist. 

Teejay climbed to her feet, un- 
steadily. "I — guess I'm growing- 
soft," she panted. "Maybe — I don't 
know- — maybe training and muscle- 
toning from — infancy — aren't the 
answer. A gal just isn't cut out for 
rough and tumble fighting." Her 
hand flashed up to her forehead, 
the back of it resting against her 
brow. "Ooo, Steve, catch me — " 

She fainted in his arms. 

Somehow, they got Teejay injo 
her vac-suit. The walls of the 
lounge were sound-proofed, and 
the struggle had attracted no one. 
Silently they made their way out of 
the lounge and through the corri- 
dors of the Frank Buck, heading 
for the airlock. Steve toted Teejay 
over his shoulder, and remember- 
ing Mercury, felt very good about 
it. He ached all over from the fight 
and he knew he'd need some mend- 
ing. But she'd called him Steve, and 
that — suddenly and ridiculously — , 
was most important. 

"What's going on here?" A crew- 
man met them in the corridor and 
bellowed his challenge. 

Kevin raised the neutron gun he 
had taken from LeClafc. 



MILTON LESSER 

He never used it. 

A fraction of a second later, the 
Frank Buck blasted off from the 
surface of Ganymede, and sudden 
acceleration threw them all to the 
floor. As Steve was to learn later, 
no hands were at the controls. No 
human hands. 



'""THIS, ROUGHLY, is the sit- 

JL uation," began Barling, pac- 
ing back and forth, speaking out of 
swollen lips and averting the right 
side of his face with its puffy cheek 
and blackened eye. "We are all in 
this together, and — " 

"You hypocrite!" cried Teejay. 
"Six hours ago, you wanted to kill 
us. Now, because something unex- 
pected pops up, you change your 
mind. Temporarily, for as long as 
you can use us, is that it?" 

"No. If we can get out of this I'll 
forget about killing, provided you 
forget about kidnapping." 

"Well . . ." 

"You haven't any other choice, 
Captain Moore." 

"He's right," Kevin admitted. 
"But what's the trouble we're in, 
Mr. Barling?" 

"Six hours ago you three jumped 
us and almost made your escape. 
But the Frank Buck took off; sud- 
denly, without warning. None of 
my men was at the controls." 

"That doesn't make sense/' Steve 
objected. 

"I didn't think so, either. I al- 
most don't know how to explain it, 
what I've seen with my own eyes 
after my men held you in detention 
here in the lounge." 

"Why don't you begin at the be- 



JUNGLE IN THE SKY 

ginning?" Teejay said, and yawned. 

"Don't be funny. Somehow, the 
anthrovacs escaped from their bub- 
bles and — " 

"What?" This was Steve, more 
than slightly incredulous. "Anthro- 
vacs are mild creatures and unless 
they're attacked they won't do any- 
thing violent." 

"That's what I thought, Sted- 
man. I don't know what to think 
now. The anthrovacs escaped — and 
freed all the other animals. We've 
been out longer than the Gordak, 
we have a couple of dozen prize 
specimens. Lead by the anthrovacs, 
they've taken over the ship." 

"Now you're joking," Teejay 
told him. "They're all brainless, 
those creatures, except for the an- 
throvacs." 

"They were brainless, Captain 
Moore. But not now. Now they be- 
have logically, with a purpose, and 
they've taken over the Frank Buck 
from stem to stern — all except those 
animals that need a special sort of 
atmosphere to breathe, and they've 
remained in their bubbles. 

"Otherwise, the animals took 
over. And I suppose you can imag- 
ine — the crew was too astounded to 
resist, especially since the anthro- 
vacs had gotten hold of neutron 
guns and seemed to know how to 
use them. Result — we've all been 
disarmed, we're prisoners aboard 
our own ship, and bound for I 
don't know where." 

"Sounds crazy to me," Teejay 
said, and stalked toward the door. 

Steve took a quick step after her, 
but Barling held him back. "Let her 
find out for herself, Stedman. Then 
maybe we can talk sense." 

Teejay opened the door, stepped 



35 

out into the corridor. Tensely, Steve 
waited, ready to bolt after her at 
the first indications of trouble. But 
what he heard was a yelp of sur- 
prise from the woman, and then she 
came running back into the lounge, 
slamming the door behind her. 

"A Martian desert cat!" she 
cried. It didn't do anything; it just 
stood there, all ten feet of it, look- 
ing at me!" 

"Then you believe me?" Barling 
demanded. "As I see it, we must 
have been struck by some cosmic 
radiation which mutated the ani- 
mals, and — " 

"No," Steve told him bluntly. 
"That's impossible. First place, any 
such change would have to be se- 
lective. All the animals wouldn't be 
affected. And more important, mu- 
tation takes generations to manifest 
itself. You never see the change at 
all in the original creature. Look at 
Earth, way back in the early years 
of atomics. Genes were mutated at 
those two Island cities— Nagasaki 
and, umm-mm, I forget the name 
of the other. Anyway, Genes were 
mutated, but it took over two hun- 
dred years for those mutations to 
become apparent. See what I 
mean?" 

"I do," said Barling. "And that's 

precisely why I think we ought to 

fight this thing together. I had an 

f idea, you helped me with it. We can 

continue like that." 

"Well," Steve nodded, "we have 
*a first-class problem on our hands. 
We Can't do anything about it until 
we know what's going on — only the 
mystery's a little deeper than you 
think. First, I heard a voice out on 
Ganymede. My brother's voice." 

"Your brother's?" Barling 



36 

scratched his head, "Oh, wait a 
minute! You must mean Charlie 
Stedman who was killed out here a 
few years back?" 

"Yeah, Charlie. You can't hear 
voices on Ganymede, but I heard 
them, inside my head. Also, don't i 
forget the Ganymede-fear. I'd say 
the three things will fit together 
when we begin to learn what's go- 
ing on." 

"Provided we can find out," Tee- 
jay told him. "You can keep your 
scientific mysteries for a while, 
Steve. What I want to know is this: 
where are we going, and why?" 

"Ask your desert cat out there." 
Kevin's laughter was sour. 

"What we need is a good turn- ' 
coat," Teejay assured him. "Some- 
/ one who can go out among the ani- 
mals and ask questions. I'm joking, 
of course, but if anyone could do it, 
it would be that'rat, LeClarc." 

Steve frowned. "That's not as 
funny as it sounds. Has anyone seen 
LeClarc since the fight?" 

"No!" Kevin slammed fist 
against palm. ( 

Steve was about to answer, but 
quite suddenly the lights blinked 
out. Somewhere outside, a dozen 
animals roared their fear. Within 
the lounge, Kevin commenced curs- 
ing lustily and an involuntary moan 
escaped Barling's lips. 

The darkness was the bleak, utter ^ 
black of deep space. Further, Steve 
realized, the steady humming of 
the fission engines had ceased. 

Minutes later, impossible pain 
gripped him and flung him, sob- 
bing to the floor. He'd never felt 
anything like it, a gripping, grind- 
ing, twisting torment which tried to 
turn him inside out. He heard the 



MILTON LESSER 

others dimly, reeling about the 
lounge and falling to the floor, and 
in the darkness someone fell near 
him. 

"Steve? Steve, is that you?" Tee- 
jay .. . 

"Yeah." The pain seemed to 
come in waves, and Steve gritted 
his teeth when the second turned 
out to be worse than the first. He 
reached out with his hand, found 
Teejay's and squeezed it. "Hold on, 
kid. It can't last forever." 

"It better — not." • 

When her hand tensed in his, 
then relaxed, Steve knew she'd 
fainted. And soon after that, his 
own senses reeled and deserted him. 

Teejay's hand was still tightly 
clenched in his when he regained 
consciousness. A dozen feet from 
them, Kevin sat up, shaking his 
head slowly back and forth. Schuy- 
ler Barling lay stretched out on his 
stomach. 

"Whatever happened," Kevin 
growled, "I didn't like it." 

Teejay extricated her hand, 
looked at Steve, smiled. "It's still 
awful quiet outside." 

It didn't remain that way for 
long. As if Teejay's words had been 
a signal, a voice boomed at them 
from the wall-microphone. "We 
have landed. All humans will please 
file out into the main corridor in 
an orderly fashion and make their 
way to the airlock." 

Schuyler Barling sat up groggily. 

Teejay said, "I could swear I 
know that voice from somewhere. 

"And I," Kevin told them. "It's 
familiar, though I can't place it." 

Steve felt his heart pounding. 
The voice was Charlie's. 



JUNGLE IN THE SKY 

THEY STOOD on a flat, grassy 
plain which stretched halfway 
to the horizon and then began to 
undulate into low hills. And far off, 
shrouded by purple mists, a range 
of mountains loomed distantly. 

Purple mist; a purplish cast to 
the sky; a fiercely bright blue sun. 
"What world is this?" said Kevin. 

The crew of the Frank Buck — a 
hundred men — stood in a long, thin 
file outside the ship. They'd balked 
at first, but silently, the three an- 
throvacs had ferreted them out 
with their neutron guns, never ut- 
tering a sound, merely motioning 
with the weapons. Of the other 
animals Steve saw nothing, but 
within the corridors of the Frank 
' Buck he'd encountered a sand 
crawler and a desert cat, both dead. 

The seconds fled, became min- 
utes. When half an hour had 
passed, the crew became restless 
and some of them ambled off on 
the grassy plain until one of the an- 
throvacs herded them back. The 
Frank Buck's Exec, a short, wiry 
man, strode within the ship and 
came out a few moments later, 
scratching his head. "I can't under- 
stand it," he said. "None of the in- 
struments work. I thought we could 
just pile back into the ship and blast 
off, but apparently someone has 
other ideas." 

Someone did. 

Someone came striding across 
the plain, a small dot of a figure at 
first. He came closer. 

Steve ignored the anthrovacs, ran 
forward. "Charlie!" he cried. 
"Charlie!" 

The man was shorter" than Steve, 
and stockier. His eyes searched 
Steve's face briefly, and he said: 



37 

"Should I know you?" 

"Should you! I'm your brother!" 

"Interesting, but quite impos- 
sible." 

The words hardly registered, and 
Steve babbled on, "We thought you 
were dead. It was Teejay here who 
reported back to Earth saying you'd 
died on Ganymede. Now you're 
•alive and — " Abruptly he whirled, 
turned to Teejay. "You lied, damn 
you! Here's Charlie, see? Charlie 
was never dead. But you said — " 

"I said Charlie was dead." The 
woman met his gaze levelly. "He 
was. I know a dead man when I 
see one. He was dead." 

"But—" 

"But nothing. I don'f know who 
this is. I can't explain it. That has 
nothing to do with what happened 
on Ganymede years ago." 

"Yes? Then what did happen? 
Why did Charlie write once that 
you must have been spawned in 
hell? You never did want to tell me 
what happened on Ganymede, did 
you? Maybe Charlie can." 

"That is my name, Charlie Sted- 
man. It is the name this body has 
always had, although when I do 
not inhabit it I assure you I am not 
Charlie Stedman," the stocky man 
said. "You see, the original inhabi- 
tant of the garment— the body- 
was destroyed. The name applied to 
the body as well as the inhabiting 
mind. The language remained en- 
graved in the brain cells, and im- 
personal parts of the memory, too. 
In that sense, I am Charlie Sted- 
man. Does it satisfy you?" 

"Hell, no," said Steve, bewil- 
dered. Mystery had been piled upon 
mystery, with no solution in sight. 
And grim confusion turned to 



38 

grimmer anger as he faced Teejay 
once more. "All right, start talking. 
Just how did you find Charlie? And 
what made him hate you like that? 
Talk, damn you!" 

"Okay, I will. But I don't know 
why Charlie hated me, and that's 
the truth. I only met him once or 
twice and — unless it was Schuyler 
here. Hey, Schuyler!" 

Barling joined them. "What do 
you want?!' 

"Answer this question: do you 
make a practise of poisoning the 
minds of your crew against me?" 

"Well, I don't know what you 
mean by poi — " 

Teejay grabbed a handful of his 
shirt and twisted, constricting the 
collar about his throat. "Answer 
me," she said. "And no run 
around." 

"I — I guess so. It's only business, 
Captain Moore. The more they 
hated you, the more they'd be will- 
ing to fight you in the hunt every 
step of the way." 

"How about Charlie Stedman?" 

"I don't remember. Probably, it 
was like that." 

Teejay flung him away from her. 
"Does that satisfy you, Steve?" 

"For that part, yes. But what 
about the rest of it?" 

"Not much to tell. I was out 
alone on Ganymede, a few miles 
from the ship. I thought I heard 
voices, sort of inside my head. I 
went forward to explore, just like 
you did, and also like you, I almost 
didn't have enough air to get back. 
Especially since I found your broth- 
er on the way." 

"And he was dead?" As he spoke, 
Steve looked at his brother, stand- 
ing right there in front of him, and 



MILTON LESSER 

wondered if anyone ever asked a 
more impossible question. 

"Yes. He was dead. I don't know 
how he died, but I placed my ear 
against the chest of his vac-suit. 
The heart-beat is amplified through 
it, you know. But there wasn't any. 
After that, I ran back to the Gor- 
dak, and I had barely enough air 
to make it. I reported Charlie's 
death, of course." 

Charlie's death. Well, she sound- 
ed sincere. But there was Charlie, 
standing two paces to her right and 
apparently listening to an account 
of his own demise. * 



CHARLIE CLEARED his 
throat. Quite evidently, it 
wasn't Charlie at all, but Steve 
could think of the man in no other 
way, for down to the smallest physi- 
cal detail, he was Charlie. "That 
will suffice," he said. Again, it was 
Charlie's voice, but expressionless. 
"Enough of bickering. You will all 
march with me toward those hills, 
and we have a long journey before 
sunset." 

The nine-foot anthrovacs took up 
their positions one on each side of 
the column and one behind it, and 
no one disobeyed. Once Steve 
looked back over his shoulder and 
saw the purple mists had almost 
completely swallowed the Frank 
Buck. 

Then the irony of the situation 
struck Steve and he smiled — almost. 
He'd come to Ganymede after an- 
throvacs. But he'd left the satellite 
under an anthrovac guard! Fine 
thing. A mighty hunter was he! 
Clear across the universe to be 
bagged by his own game! 



JUNGLE IN THE SKY 

Obviously, Steve thought as they 
marched on, the blue day-star was 
not Earth's sun. Somehow, in a 
matter of moments, they'd left the 
Solar System entirely. He knew that 
theories had been advanced about 
traveling through something called 
sub-space, something which could 
make flight to the farthest stars al- 
most instantaneous, since sub-space 
existed outside the space-time con- 
tinuum. And that wrenching from 
one spatial plane to another might 
explain the tremendous pain they'd 
undergone, too. But surely the 
Frank Buck had never been 
equipped for such flight. The whole 
concept of sub-space flight was 
strictly theoretical and hadn't even 
reached the drawing-board stage. 

Then how had it happened? 

Kevin had some vague, half- 
formed ideas on the subject, and he 
le\Steve know about them. "It's a 
puzzler, boy. They took us a long 
way, space alone knows how far. I 
don't pretend to know why; we 
can't figure that out, not yet. But I 
know this: they could not have 
done that without help. Someone 
had to'bring the ship." 

"The anthrovacs?" Steve sug- 
gested. 

"Not the anthrovacs. For all 
their handling neutron guns and 
taking the Frank Buck over, they're 
just big apes to me. Maybe they 
were able to take the ship off Gany- 
mede, but no more than that. They 
had help, boy, and from the inside." 

"Who? Who do you mean?" 

"I'm not sure I know. But look at 
it this way. The Gordak wasn't 
taken, the Frank Buck was. Why? 
I'll tell you why, or at least I'll tell 
you one possibility. There were 



39 

scores of men on each ship, but ■ 
while the Gordak had only one ani- 
mal — the stone worm you got on 
Mercury — the Frank Buck had 
dozens. All right so far, boy? Well, 
here's what I think: whoever took 
the ship wanted both men and ani- 
. mals." 

"I still don't understand." 

"I'm not sure I do, either. Let's 
get back a litde.' The Frank Buck, 
not the Gordak, was taken. Strange, 
isn't it, that just before that hap- 
pened LeClarc bolted our ranks 
and joined the enemy! Does that 
mean LeClarc had to be on the 
Frank Buck before anything hap- 
pened? And whcre'd he get to, any- 
way? I haven't seen him since the 
fight; I don't think anyone has. 
Now, a man spends years idolizing 
a woman — I've been around, and I 
think I told you LeClarc would 
have done anything for Captain 
Moore. Suddenly, he gets sulky be- 
cause he's out of favor with her, 
and decides on a double-cross. 

"It smells bad, boy. Sure, he was 
sulky, but the LeClarc I knew 
would have come crawling to Cap- 
tain Moore, anyway. This one 
didn't." Kevin paused, ran a hand 
through his red hair. "Maybe it 
means he isn't the same man. May- 
be it means he's something like that 
thing which calls itself your broth- 
er. That's not Charlie Stedman and 
you know it. Trouble is, boy, you 
can't admit it to yourself." 

"I won't argue about it," Steve 
replied. "But you're off the beam 
there. Charlie doesn't remember 
me, but LeClarc's memory seemed 
fine." 

"That's true, Steve. I can't ex- 
plain it, except like this: whatever 



40 

happened to both of them, we don't 
know a thing about it. Maybe it 
works in a different way on differ- 
ent people. Maybe because Charlie 
was dead first, his personal memo- 
ries were a loss, but LeClarc's 
weren't because he might have been 
possessed alive." 

"Possessed?" 

"Yes, possessed. Oh, not by spir- 
its, that's for sure. But possessed 
nevertheless. I won't say the anthro- 
vacs were possessed, for we don't 
know enough about them to begin 
with. But look at those other ani- 
mals now, the ones that died. You 
won't deny that something took 
over their brains?" 

"Damned right I won't. But I 
still don't see how it all adds up." 

"Nor do I," said Kevin. "Unfor- 
tunately, the brutes seemed to have 
perished in transit from Ganymede 
to here, wherever here is. It could 
be that the strain on their brain-tis- 
sue, with sentience and intelli- 
gence taking over where before 
only sentience had resided, was too 
great." 

Kevin paused, then concluded: 
"whatever the reason, whatever the 
reason for all. of it — I think you'll 
find LeClarc knows all about it." 

The blue sun had neared the 
horizon and the purple mists had 
become cool and chilling at jour- 
ney's end. It was then that they 
saw LeClarc. 



THE COLUMN of men had 
traversed the grassy plain, had 
climbed steadily through the region 
of undulating hills. And suddenly, 
hidden until the last moment by a 
rise in the terrain and spread out at 



MILTON LESSER 

the foot of the higher mountains, 
they saw a city. Circular, walled, 
pleasantly pastel-tinted despite the 
purple gloom, it lay before them, 
lights which might or might not 
have been electricity winking on to 
dispel the gathering darkness. 

And there, at the city's gateway, 
stood LeClarc. LeClarc — and not 
LeClarc. The man seemed as much 
LeClarc as the short stocky figure 
who led the procession seemed 
Charlie | Stedman. "Welcome to 
Uashalume," he said, and Steve 
pulled up short at the sound of his 
voice. There was something of the 
volatile Frenchman in it, but some- 
thing else which was alien. 

"You will be billeted in tempo- 
rary quarters for the night," Le- 
Clarc continued. "You will of 
course have no need for such quar- 
ters after tomorrow's bazaar." 

"Of course, my foot!" Teejay 
cried petulantly. "See here, Le- 
Clarc, we've been getting orders 
and directives without knowing 
what they mean or why they were 
given or — ** 

"Must you be so impatient?" Le- 
Clarc's smile was almost devoid of 
mirth. "You've come one hundred 
thousand light years, and surely 
you can wait until morning." 

"Light years!" This was Steve. 

And Kevin, "One hundred thou- 
sand!" 

The academic problem didn't 
bother Teejay as much as the hu- 
man one. She said, defiantly, "What 
he needs is a good swift kick." 

LeClarc failed to wait for that, or 
anything else. Chuckling, he led the 
first anthrpvac through the high- 
arched stone gateway and the other 
two creatures herded the humans 



JUNGLE IN THE SKY 

in after him. Charlie— although 
obviously, the man was not Charlie 
— went on ahead with LeClarc, and 
Steve had to restrain Teejay with a 
few terse words. 

The purple mists cloaked the city 
completely now, and as they plod- 
ded along a wide roadway, Steve 
half-saw figures watching them 
from the darkness. He could not 
make the figures out, however, and 
he heard nothing but the sounds 
their feet made on the stone road- 
way. 

Presently, they came to a small- 
er, divergent path which led back 
to the base of the wall. Here, in 
deepest shadow, was their destina- 
tion — a squat, rectangular build- 
ing carved from stone. A gate 
creaked and clanged open before 
them; they streamed through, 
weary after hours of forced march; 
the gate clanged resoundingly be- 
hind them. Charlie had not entered 
with them, nor LeClarc, nor the an- 
throvacs. It took Steve only a mo- 
ment to discover the gate had been 
securely fastened from the outside. 

"I guess we bed down here for 
the night," he said, grinning rue- 
fully. 

Teejay shrugged, wrapped the 
black cape tightly about her. It was 
cold and damp in the one large 
chamber which took up the interi- 
or of the building. In the center of 
the place stood a stone table, and 
on it a gas lamp which flickered 
and spluttered and cast grotesque 
shadows as the men wandered 
about. There were no beds, no fur- 
niture of any sort except for the 
table. And the two small peep-hole 
windows were fifteen or more feet 
off the ground. 



41 

The crew of the Frank Buck 
gathered in small, anxious knots 
and whispered grimly among them- 
selves. After a time, men circulated 
between one group and another, 
and finally one of them, evidently 
designated as spokesman for the 
rest, approached Schuyler Barling. 

He seemed nervous, frightened, 
unsure of himself. "Captain Bar- 
ling, my name's Steiner, and the = 
fellows thought that — well, that I 
might speak for them. We don't 
know what's going on, but we do 
know this much: we don't like it." 

"I can't blame you," said Bar- 
ling. 

"Point is, sir, we want you to do 
something about it." 

"Eh? Me? What can I do?" 

"We don't know that, sir. But a 
spaceman's a peculiar individual; 
some say he's got characteristics you 
won't find elsewhere, and one of 
them is this : he has complete con- 
fidence in his captain." 

"Why, thank you, Steiner." 

"Me, I work in fission. I like to 
have that confidence and the rest 
of the men, they like to have it too. 
When they lose it, they're kind of at 
a loss. We don't want to think we've 
lost it here, sir." 

"What do you want me to do?" 
Barling was restless, .fidgety, twist- 
ing his hands together. 

"Lead us, sir. Tell us you can get 
us out of here. Tell us we must be 
prepared to fight behind you and 
maybe to die, but lead us." 

"But how can you expect me to 
lead you when I don't know what's 
happening? How can I plan for es- 
cape when I don't know what it is 
we have to escape from?" 

"There's talk among the men, 



42 

sir," Steiner went on. "Some of 
them are for you, although I'll be 
frank. There aren't many, sir. But 
they need a leader, all of them 
agree on that. What they want to 
know is this: are you their man?" 

Barling squared his thin shoul- 
ders arrogantly. "I'm the Frank 
Buck*s Captain." 

"The Frank Buck lies behind us 
in those purple mists, sir. Could 
you find it? Finding it, Could yOU 
make it run again?" 

"I don*t know." 

"Then the fact that you captain 
the Frank Buck doesn't mean 
much. We've decided that leaves 
us without a leader, sir. We need a 
leader." 

Barling smiled coldly. "Are you' 
trying to tell me the men have se- 
lected you?" 

"No, sir. I'm not. But the "ma- 
jority of the men have their choice 
— and that is Captain Moore. We 
who have been with the Frank 
Buck longest have heard a' lot of 
bad talk about Captain Moore, but 
that changes completely whenever 
we make planetfall. The talk in all 
the frontier towns is all in Captain 
Moore's favor. When there are de- 
cisions to be made, sif, we'd like 
her to make them." 

"A woman? When all your lives 
may be at stake?*' 



ONE' OF THE three hunters 
who'd fared sO poorly in the 
lounge fight strode forward, say- 
ing: "Look at yourself, sir. You're 
beaten and battered, and that's 
Captain Moore's work. Did her sex 
matter then?" 

Barling reddened, said nothing. 



MILTON LESSER 

"We have a pressing need for a 
leader," Steiner continued. "Our 
behavior cannot be chaotic. The 
leader must plan for us, and we 
must be prepared to carry out those 
plans with no hesitation. We must 
have faith in our leader." 

Teejay joined them, grinning. 
"Thank you, Mr. Steiner. There 
was a time not long ago when what 
you've just finished saying would 
have meant more to me than any- 
thing. Literally, more than any- 
thing. But would you , think it 
strange if you hear that I don't 
think that now?" 

"What do you mean?" Steiner 
demanded. 

"I'm a - twenty-second century 
female, strong as a man and proud 
of it. Too proud, Mr. Steiner, for 
I've spent my whole life trying to 
prove it. Plenty of men have cursed 
me for it, I'll bet, and I guess they 
were right. 

"So I don't want that job you 
offer. It took a kind of free-for-all 
brawl to make me realize it, but 
a woman's still a woman, and that's 
one thing I had to learn. I fought 
your Captain Barling and I beat 
him. Probably, I could do it agaim/ 
But I — well, I was fighting with 
Captain Barling and saying to my- 
self all die time, 'This is stupid. 
What are you — a girl— doing this 
lor? Don't you know you shouldn't 
go around fighting like a man?' " 
Steve noticed in the dim light that 
Teejay had begun to blush. "I hate 
to bate my life before you like this, 
Mr. Steiner, but the way it adds up 
I've suddenly found I've had 
enough of fighting and galavanting 
around. So the answer is no: I 
won't be your captain. 'The way I 



JUNGLE IN THE SKY 

feel now, I can't be." 

"Where does that leave us?" 
Steiner asked her sullenly. "We 
don't think Captain Barling can do 
the job, whatever the job turns out 
to be. It's one thing to serve on a 
largely automatic ship under Cap- 
tain Barling, but another thing to 
have to take his orders here — wher- 
ever we are." 

"May I make a suggestion?" 
Tee jay asked. And, after Steiner 
nodded and most of the men 
grumbled their assent: "There are 
two men here who can lead us the 
way we should be led. One is Kevin 
McGann, Exec of the Gordak; the 
other is Steve Stedman." 

A stir of surprise passed among 
the men. It was one thing to offer 
their allegiance to the Captain of 
another ship- — and an unusual thing 
at that — but quite another to offer 
it to a couple of men they hardly 
knew. The men began heated dis- 
cussions once more, louder this 
time, and Teejay drew Steve off 
into a corner. 

"Does that surprise you?" 

"It sure does, Teejay. On both 
counts. But I'll tell you this : I think 
I could like you a lot better in your 
new role, and — Teejay?" 

"What?" Her voice was soft and 
he felt her hand snuggle into his. 

"I — I like you plenty right now." 
He slid his arms around her waist, 
drew her toward him, one small 
part of his mind expecting a round- 
house right-handed wallop from the 
old Teejay. But she merely sighed 
contentedly and slipped her arms, 
around his neck. He kissed her — 
tentatively at first — then long and 
deep, and Teejay's eyes were all 
aglow when he finished. 



43 

"You lug," she said, "if you 
didn't do something like that, and 
soon, I was going to be an Amazon 
just once more to make you do 
it." 

Someone — Steve saw it was 
Steiner — stood before them clearing 
his throat. "Captain Moore?" 

"Yes?" Teejay hardly saw him. 

"The men have decided to ac- 
cept your recommendation. Mc- 
Gann and Stedman it is, Captain 
Moore. They bark and we'll jump. 
And we'll be hoping something 
comes of it." 

"If it's at all possible, they'll get 
us out of here," Teejay predicted, 
and squeezed Steve's hand. 

"Any orders, sir?" Steiner looked 
at Steve. 

"Umm-mm, no. Except that we'd 
like to have this corner to ourselves 
for a while." J 

"Done," said Steiner, smiling and 
striding away. 

"I have one order," Kevin called 
out loudly, and silence fell on the 
room quite abruptly. "Let's all get 
the hell to sleep before we're too 
tired to do anything when morning 
comes." 



A PURPLE-BLUE dawn crept 
in through the two small win- 
dows, bringing strange bird-sounds 
with it. Steve was stiff and chilled 
and he'd slept badly on the hard 
stone floor. The groans and frowns 
all around the room showed him he 
wasn't the only one. Teejay slept 
like a baby, the cape wrapped about 
her, and she didn't arise until one 
of the men began to bang on the 
stone and metal door. 

"Is it morning?" said Teejay, 



44 

coming into Steve's arms almost 
before she was fully awake. "I had 
the nicest dreams, darling!" 

Abruptly, Steve whirled away 
from her. The door had begun to 
creak in ponderously oa little-used 
hinges. 

An anthrovac bent and cattle 
within the chamber, bearing a 
bath-tub-sized bowl of what looked 
like hot, steaming cereal. It was 
deposited near the table, along with 
a dozen or so stone spoons. Foolish- 
ly, one of the men darted for the 
doorway. Reaching out with a long, 
hairy arm, the anthrovac scooped 
him up by the scruff of the neck 
and flung him back inside. He got 
to his feet with a nasty gash on his 
( forehead which Teejay bandaged 
with a strip of cloth ripped from 
the hem of her black cape. 

The spoons were passed around 
after that, and the men of the Frank 
Buck dug into the gruel with gusto. 
It had been fifteen hours since any 
of them had eaten and surprisingly, 
the gruel turned out to be quite 
palatable, with an appealing, nut- 
like flavor. 

The anthrovac waited fifteen 
minutes, then lifted the huge bowl 
and departed with it. But the door 
didn't close fully. 

Charlie Stedman came through 
it. 

"Good morning," he said. "We're 
a little late, and we'll have to hurry 
if we want to reach the bazaar in 
time for opening." v 

"Are you sure We want to?" 
Kevin demanded sarcastically. 

And Steiner suggested: "Maybe 
you'd like to answer a few questions 
first." 

"Sure." This was Teejay. "About 



MILTON LESSER 

a thousand questions." 

It was as if the man hadn't heard 
them at all. "Outside a vehicle 
awaits you. There is room for all, 
provided each man occupies one of 
the squares you will find marked 
off on the floor. Let's go." 

Angry, sullen, but still thoroughly 
bewildered, the men trooped out- 
side. 

The . vehicle was a sort of bus, 
although the noise of a gasoline 
engine or the purring of a fissioh 
engine would have shocked Steve 
here on the world called Uasha- 
lume. As it turned out, the bus 
started with a whining whistle 
which quickly climbed to the super- 
sonic and faded beyond the level 
human ears could reach. Within 
the vehicle there were no seats, but 
the floor had been divided into 
two-foot squares, a thin white line 
marking off each box. When each 
man had occupied his square, the 
bus slipped away from the Squat 
building and was soon streaking 
down the roadway at a good clip. 

Steve saw other buildings, most 
of them squat and shapeless. And 
now, with the coming of daylight, 
he could see some of the inhabitants 
of Uashalume. He'd steeled himself 
for it. He hadn't expected human 
beings. Any variety of six-legged, 
multi-tentacled, bug-eyed creatures 
would have been strictly in order. 

He gasped. 

He got more than he bargained 
for. Hardly two of the creatures 
gazing in at them were alike! The 
differences were not those you 
might expect to find among the 
members of a particular species. 
The differences were extreme. 

A furry thing hovered alongside 



JUNGLE IN THE SKY 

the open-windowed -bus on six 
gauze-like wings. 

■ Multiple eyes stared up at them 
out of a pool of amorphous proto- 
plasm. 

A bony, stickJike creature with 
four arms and one cyclopean eye 
covering almost its entire head 
peered at them. 

An ecto-skeletoned monstrosity 
made clicking noises as they passed. 

Big horrors and little horrors. 

Steve found himself laughing 
harshly. What did all his knowledge 
of Extra-terrestrial zoology amount 
to now? Extra-terrestrial — that 
meant the Solar System, one tiny, 
inconsequential corner of a great 
galaxy. But here, here on Uasha- 
lume, denizens of a hundred Solar 
Systems might have been gathered. 

Why? 

Such utterly different creatures — 
each conforming to a particular 
environmental niche — would not 
be found together. Unless someone 
had probed the depths of space for 
life-forms that might all be capable 
of surviving on Uashalume, as, in- 
deed, humans could survive there! 
But why? The question returned, 
taunted him. Again, such a gather- 
ing wouldn't be out of direct choice. 
If each of the creatures seemed so 
completely strange, so horrible, so 
ludicrous to human eyes — they 
probably appeared that way to one 
another as well. 

Steve wondered how some of 
them might describe the obnoxious, 
featherless, hairless bipeds which 
walked upright on two limbs and 
carried two other limbs for more 
varied purposes than walking. Bi- 
peds which called themselves hu- 
mans. And that, precisely, was the 



45 

point. Such a gathering stemmed 
from no natural cause. Such a 
gathering had been imposed ar- 
bitrarily, but for what purpose? 
And what, if anything, did the 
bazaar have to do with it? A bazaar 
of the worlds, bringing together for 
trade, creatures of every form and 
size and color? Steve doubted that 
somehow, for the bazaar would lack 
a universal means of exchange, and 
even if barter were resorted to, how 
could totally alien life-forms assess 
the value of completely foreign 
produce? They couldn't. 

That left Steve with nothing but 
a lot of half-formed questions and 
,no answers at all. 

He had a hunch he'd begin to 
get some answers when the bus 
reached its destination. As with the 
inhabitants of Uashalume, he was 
to get more than he bargained 
for. 



THEY MILLED about in con- 
fusion on a large raised plat- 
form under the blue sun. A sea of 
impossible creatures rolled and 
seethed on all sides of them, shutter- 
eyes, pin-hole eyes, simple lightr 
sensative receptors, multiple-tube 
eyes — -hundreds of varieties all in- 
tent upon them. 

Steve heard voices around him 
on the platform, confused, alarmed. 
"What's happening?" 

"This place looks like an auction 
block!" 

"Look at those creatures, will 
you?" 

"Are we for sale or something?" 

The human voices faded into a 
meaningless babble. Someone else 
was speaking, but not aloud. It was 



JUNGLE IN THE SKY 

like Charlie Stedman's voice, that 
day on Ganymede. Steve heard it 
inside his head and this time — be- 
cause they all stood about more be- 
wildered than ever — he knew that 
the Frank Buck's crew heard it too. 

"Friends of Uashalume," the 
voice purred mentally, "here, at 
opening day of the bazaar, we have 
a most unusual treat. Most unusual. 
Two of us, as you know, have al- 
ready tested the models in question, 
and we find them entirely satisfac- 
tory." 

Charlie Stedman and LeClarc 
stepped forward, bowed. 

"For the rest of you, one hundred 
choice specimens! We set no fixed 
price, but let this be said about the 
new garments. They are unspoiled, 
virgin material; they've not been 
used-before. You'll find them stimu- 
lating for that reason alone, I'm 
sure. As for the vital statistics, they 
vary in height from three and a half 
to five klars; in weight from fifteen 
to twenty-nine jarons; they are a 
bisexual lot, although only one fe- 
male of the species is present ; their 
intellectual capacity is on the 
seventh level, their better minds can 
attain to problems of relativity and 
universal field; emotionally, they 
have twice the range of any pre- 
vious garment!" 

The voice paused significantly, 
permitted that point to sink in. 
"Yes, twice the range. We none of 
us have ever experienced such 
strong, vital ' emotions. Can you 
imagine, twice the emotional range 
of the scour adi of Deneb XIX! It 
means a new way of life for those 
among us who select some of these 
humans for their own. 

"Now, the auction-master will 



47 

please step forward." 

"We are for sale," Steiner gasped. 

It was Charlie Stedman who 
came to the fore, climbing the auc- 
tion-block and looking around him. 
After a time, he singled out Steiner 
and pulled the man forward by an 
elbow. "The first specimen is typ- 
ical," he droned in English, and 
Steve figured he spoke mentally to 
the assembled throngs, reeling off 
the height, weight, and other vital 
statistics for Steiner. Finally: 
"What am I bid?" 

Mental voices sang out, one after 
another: 

"Three char!" 

"Four." 

"Six." 

"Ten char." 

"Ten?" The man who was Chari 
lie Stedman laughed. "Ten char in- 
deed! One hundred is not enough." 

The bidding continued, became 
hot, became a contest between two 
mental voices. Steiner went for 
seventy-four char, whatever a char 
was. 

They took him down and carted 
him away, struggling. It looked like 
an ugly scene would develpp, for 
a score of men surged toward the 
front of the block angrily. But some 
of the creatures held what looked 
like strange, possibly lethal weap- 
ons, and Kevin growled: "Not 
now! There's no sense getting all 
of us killed. Relax, and we'll see." 

Grumbling, the men subsided, 
and Kevin turned to Steve: "If this 
isn't the damndest cosmic joke of 
all." 

"What do you mean?" 

"We're hunters, big game hunt- 
ers. We go out into space to hunt 
for specimens, only this time we've 



48 

become specimens ourselves! This 
time we weren't the hunters, but 
the quarry!" 

The auction continued, and one 
by one the men were sold. Once one 
of them, a radar technician, bolted 
and ran. He was cut down quite 
efficiently by one of the hand- 
weapons and Charlie Stedman as- 
serted it was a pity one of the speci- 
mens had been lost. "Keep your 
tempers," Kevin said grimly as a 
wave of anger washed over the auc- 
tion block. "I don't like it any more 
than you do, but we won't fight 
until we understand — and then per- 
haps we'll have a chance." 



WHEN HALF the men had 
been taken, Charlie Sted- 
man reached for Teejay and 
dragged her forward. "This," he 
said, "is the female of the species. 
You will notice the long hair atop 
her head and the twin Out-thrust 
developments of the upper ventral 
region; these are the marks of dis- 
tinction. And for two reasons we 
will demand a special price for the 
female. 

"First, we are primarily in- 
terested in these humans for emo- 
tion. Stronger garments we have, 
and garments which live longer. But 
none attain to the human emotional 
level, And, among the humans", the 
female is capable of stronger surges 
of emotion, perhaps because in 
general she is physically weaker and 
must compensate for it, although, 
from what I've seen, this particu- 
lar specimen is a physical match for 
the others. 

"Second, one specific high degree 
of emotion is possible only when a 



MILTON LESSER 

male and a female are in one an- 
other's presence. Therefore, whiah- 
ever one of you owns the female 
can be certain of that added stimu- 
lus, and, as a consequence, certain 
of a more satisfactory garment from 
the emotional point of view. Now, 
what am I offered?" 

Teejay went for three hundred 
char. 

Kevin had to circle Steve's body 
with his huge arms and hold him 
firm as they took Teejay away. He'd 
found the woman quite suddenly, 
and he loved her all the more for 
it. His potential worst enemy had 
become his lover. And now, brief 
hours later she was taken from him, 
perhaps forever. "Let go of me! Get 
ydur filthy hands off me. That's 
Teejay they're taking! Teejay!" 

"And they'll take you too. But 
you're going alive, not dead. Stand 
still and let them get on with this." 

"Don't you realize what they've 
been talking about?" Steve shouted 
his rage. "They'll wear Us, like 
clothing. They'll get inside our 
brains and share our bodies with us, 
like they've done with all these 
other creatures. Did you think these 
monsters were all native to Uasha- 
lume? I wouldn't be surprised if 
none of them was. They've all been 
taken, as we have, from their own 
worlds. They all live he,re-^as Cloth- 
ing. Maybe the masters don't have 
physical form at all, maybe they're 
just mental essence. 

"And all they want to do is run 
the gamut of our emotions. They 
know how to play with emotions, 
too. Remember the Ganymede-fear, 
Kevin?" 

"I remember, boy." Kevin still 
held him. 



JUNGLE IN THE SKY 

"Well, that was their work. Prob- 
ably, Ganymede was their base in 
our Solar System, although it's pos- 
sible they first got into LeClarc's 
brain on Mercury. And Kevin, all 
those theories you had were right!" 

"Yes, I know. And sub-space — " 

"The hell with that. They're tak- 
ing Teejay and they may take all 
of us and spread us out all over 
the face of this world. We'll never 
find each other. We'll—" 

"You're next, Steve Stedman." 
It was Charlie's voice, and Steve 
felt Kevin release him with a word 
of warning, felt himself drawn to 
the front of the block. Somehow, he 
found he was incredibly objective 
as the bidding began. He was 
claimed for one hundred fifty char 
and led away by a creature with a 
stilt-like body and six arms. Or 
rather, he thought, that was the 
garment. But the real creature — 
the mental entity within it— had 
grown tired of last year's cloak, and 
Steve was to take its place. 

Moments later, Steve's buyer 
whisked him away in a smaller ver- 
sion of the bus that had taken the 
Frank Buck's crew to the bazaar. 
On the outskirts of the city, the car 
stopped. Steve - climbed out, fol- 
lowed the stilt-figure up a flight of 
stairs as a round, fat, furry creature 
bounced up behind him with a 
weapon. 

~ Inside, the place looked like a 
laboratory. And at the center of the 
room squatted a great round tank, 
large enough to hold a man. A 
green liquid boiled within it, but 
somehow Steve got the impression 
of boiling without much heat. He 
became absorbed in the idea, 
reached up over the lip of the tank 



49 

to verify it on a thoroughly peculiar 
impulse. 

Something struck him from be- 
hind. He staggered to his knees and 
tried to keep his eyes opened. The 
hard stone floor slammed against 
his face as he lost consciousness. 



HE WAS floating, and when he 
could see again, a murky 
green haze surrounded him. 

Floating, completely submerged! 

He felt no desire to breathe. He 
did not have to breathe at all. It 
was as if his life had been suspended 
completely, as if there was no need 
for his body to carry out its normal 
functions. But he wasn't dead. He 
could open his eyes and stare at the 
green "liquid, and he could think. 

And after a time, vague forms 
appeared outside. He saw the walls 
of the laboratory and the shining 
instruments— through green murk. 
And he saw something else moving 
about, a shadowy form. The stilt- 
like creature? 

Abruptly, sharp pain lanced from 
the front of his skull to the back. 
Briefly. And it did not repeat it- 
self. 

A voice whispered, "You are 
struggling. Do not struggle, for it 
can only prolong the inevitable. 
Transfer takes time, of course; but 
the longer it takes the more un- 
pleasant it will be for you." 

"Go to hell." 

It was then that the pain came 
back — stronger. And something al- 
most physical pushed in at his mind, 
something ugly, unclean, wet with 
a damp, chilling moisture which 
brought twinges of fright. Like the 
Ganymede-fear^ but more intense. 



50 

"To struggle is useless." ' 

The wet feeling, like fingers now, 
fingers which oozed slime, clung to 
his brain, probed it, bore inward. 

"Why struggle? I think you will 
make a good fit." 

"Go away. Damn you, go away!" 

"I see the auction-master was 
right. Emotionally, you are strong." 

The fingers departed, came back 
again, more insistent. No longer 
wet, they were digits of fire now, 
burning, burning. 

Steve screamed soundlessly and 
fainted. 

When Steve came to, he was out- 
side the tank. He Was tired and did 
not feel like walking. Nevertheless, 
• he walked. At first he did not un- 
derstand. He thought: / will sit 
down and rest. 

His body failed to obey, con- 
tinued walking. 

"We share this body," the voice 
Whispered to him, within his skull. 
"You are merely an observer as long 
as I am awake. I am in control. 
Henceforth, I dwell in this body." 

"I want to sleep." 

"You will learn that your mind 
can sleep while your body does not. 
And the body interests me, human. 
The body is capable of strong emo- 
tion. I want to feel that emotion." 

The place, Steve realized later, 
was a sort of proving-grounds. He 
felt himself walking, walking. He 
reached the edge of a cliff, stared 
down from giddy heights. He felt 
himself tetering on the edge, saw 
jagged rocks far below him. He 
jumped. He did not want to, but he 
jumped. 

"We'll be killed!" he cried, tey 
fear making his heart pound. 



MILTON LESSER 

"That is feat," said the voice in 
his sktill. "That is wonderful fear. 
So strong — " 

Something cushioned their fall, 
slowly. It was that, Steve knew. 
Their fall, not his alone. For the 
creature shared it with him. 

He tumbled, but slowly, like a 
feather, like a wraith of fog. He 
alighted on the rocks with hardly a 
jar, cushioned by some advanced 
application of a force-field. A large 
cube of metal Was there to convey 
them to the top once more. 

After that, he became giddy. He 
did not know why, but the impulse 
to laugh Was too strong to resist. He 
laughed until it grew painful, 
laughed until the tears came to his 
eyes. 

"That is joy," said the voice. "I 
can instill joy in you. But the way 
you express it, that is unique. 
More!" 

And Steve's laughter bubbled up 
insanely again. The creature was 
wrong — not joy. Hysteria, more 
nearly. Unused to emotions, the 
creature could not tell them apart. 

Something grabbed his arms and 
held it. A giant vise which could 
crush and twist. He saw nothing, 
realized that it was some mental 
trick-— but thoroughly effective. His 
arm was being wrenched from its 
socket, slowly, terribly. 

He clenched his teeth, groaned. 
From somewhere far off, the voice 
laughed calmly. "I like that. Oh yes, 
I do. I like your reaction to pain." 

An intense loathing he had never 
before experienced took hold of 
him. At first he thought it was an- 
other trick, but he could sense alarm 
in the creature which shared him. 
The loathing, then, was his body's 



JUNGLE IN THE SKY 



51 



reaction to its parasite. Almost, he 
could feel the creature squirming, 
and he gave free reign to the emo- 
tion. 

"Stop!" The voice was strident, 
alarmed. 

/ hate you, Steve thought intense- 
ly. / hate you. 

"Stop! I warn you, you will kill 
us with that, or drive us insane." 

Vertigo followed the loathing as 
the creature fought back. Steve was 
tired, suddenly more tired than he'd 
ever been. He sank back into black- 
ness, knew even as his senses fled 
that his mind alone would sleep, 
not his body. With two minds, the 
body would not sleep at all — and 
in a matter of months it would 
perish of fatigue. But the creature 
within him feared his hatred, and 
that he must remember. 



THE DAYS followed each other 
in a slow, tortuous procession. 
Nothing seemed to satiate the para- 
site, for each day it strove for new 
emotions, and after a time Steve 
learned he could frustrate it by re- 
garding everything as unreal, 
imaginative, non-existent. 

Sometimes, the guest slept when 
the host did not. At such times, 
Steve found, he had freedom of a 
sort. His field of action was not 
circumscribed in any way except 
that violent activity would awaken 
the parasite. Steve toyed with his 
freedom, timorously at first, then 
grew more confident. He played 
with it, basked in it after steady 
days of control. He even discovered 
he could use the telepathic abilities 
of his uninvited mental guest. 

He missed Teejay, wondered 



about her, longed for her. His as- 
tonishment was so extreme when he 
first heard her voice within his^nead 
that he almost awakened the para- 
site. 

"Steve? Steve, is that you?" 

"Teejay—" 

"I've been trying to reach you. 
When these creatures sleep, we can 
use their minds." 

"Then you're all right?" 

"I'm as all right as can be ex- 
pected, Steve. But they've been run- 
ning me through all sorts of emo- 
tional mazes. My clothing is torn 
and they don't care about it. My 
skin is torn and bruised. They don't 
care about that, either. They'll run 
us down. Did you notice all the 
other creatures here? Some of their 
bones are broken — if they have 
bones— and they've never been set. 
They're bruised and bloody and in- 
fected and the parasites don't care! 
Why should they, they can get new 
bodies? But Steve — oh, Steve, I've 
never felt so unclean in all my life 
and it's just as if I've been defiled 
and—" 

"Take it easy, Teejay. Thinking 
like that won't help." 

"I hate them. Oh, I hate them. 
I—" 

"Listen. I want you to concen- 
trate like that. Hate weakens them. 
Remember how the animals aboard 
the Frank Buck died? Well, since' 
our emotions are so much stronger 
than the parasites, maybe, may- 
be—" s 

"You mean it could work in re- 
verse ?" 

"I don't know." 

"You want me to try, darling?" 

"Yes — no! We can't do it now. If 
it works, we'd still be leaving a hun- 



52 

dred men here. They're doomed, 
Teejay. We're all doomed unless we 
can do something about it, and 
soon. But at night they sleep. Yeah, 
they sleep at night! If we can con- 
tact the others, and make a concen- 
trated effort of it, using the tele- 
pathic powers of the parasites — " 

"Shh! That's enough, Steve. My 
friend here is getting up. I can feel 
him stirring inside my head. Shh, 
later!" 

At the end, hope had made Tee- 
jay her old spunky self again. But 
when Steve's own master awakened,- 
that hope seemed mightly slim in- 
deed. 

Each night they managed to con- 
tact two or three of the others, and 
the word was supposed to be passed 
on. Finally, it was arranged. The 
night for action was decided upon 4 
and for some few of them it would 
be a gamble, for there was no 
guarantee that all the parasites 
would be asleep. Once the attempt 
was made, however, there would be 
no turning back. Whoever was left 
behind — was left behind. 

Provided the plan worked at all. 



THE CREATURE was asleep 
again. 

"I hate ycfo," Steve said quietly. 

Silence. 

"1 hate you." He thought it now, 
thought it with all his. being — and 
somehow he could sense the 
thought was being reinforced as 
scores of men concentrated on it 
around the city. The mind within 
him stirred sluggishly, but he 
pushed it under again. Hate, hate, 
hate. 

Hadn't the creature said it could 



MILTON LESSER 

kill them both? A gamble. Every- 
thing was a gamble. Naturally the 
parasite would say that. 

Steve began to sweat, physically. 
He was weak and the muscles of 
his arms and legs trembled. His 
mind found the strange telepathic 
channel of the parasite, traveled in- 
ward along it — with hatred. That, 
at least, was easy. He did hate the 
creature so thoroughly and so com- 
pletely that the feeling pushed 
everything else from his mind. 

A concert of hatred, all over the 
city. And slumbering masters who 
might or, might not awaken. 

"Stop!" A clarion command in- 
side his skull. The parasite was 
fighting back. 

Steve tumbled to the floor, lay 
there writhing. Two minds fought 
for control of his body, and he was 
being pushed back and out of con- 
trol. He got to his feet stiffly, strode 
to a cabinet, took out a knife. He 
stared at the knife, , fascinated, 
pointed it toward his chest. 

"One of us must die, human, but 
it shall not be I!" 

He drove the knife inward, slow- 
ly, an inch at a time toward his 
chest. He felt the point sting, saw 
a thin trickle of blood. For a mo- 
ment, he fought to possess his arms 
and the knife with them. That was 
a mistake— almost, a fatal one. 

The parasite wanted that, for, in 
such a battle, it would win every- 
time. Perhaps it could not fight his 
hatred, but it could fight anything 
else he had to offer. 

The knife went in, scraped 
against a rib. 

Steve yelled hoarsely, drenched 
every atom of his soul in hatred. 
Slowly, he withdrew the knife, 



JUNGLE IN THE SKY 

watched bright red blood well up 
after it. 

Something tugged at his mind, 
slipped away — first scalding, then 
wet. It oozed out, and pain blurred 
Steve's vision as he tumbled to the 
floor again. 

When he got up moments later 
and managed to staunch the flow of 
blood, he knew the parasite had 
perished. 



BARELY SIXTY of them met 
near the city gate — grim and 
weary, most of them with fresh 
wounds. Steve's joy was an emotion 
the dead parasite would have loved 
to share when he saw Teej ay among 
the sixty. Kevin was there too, and 
Steiner. Surprisingly, Schuyler Bar- 
ling seemed more sprightly than the 
rest. 

"LeClarc?" Steve demanded. 

"He was the first," said Kevin. 
"Stronger control, perhaps. He's 
among those who could not make 
it." 

"Maybe they're still alive." 

"No," Teejay told him. "I saw 
three men die, horribly. Most of the 
others probably did, too." 

"Don't you see, boy, we can't 
chance survival for all of us to seek 
out one or two who might still be 
alive! It wouldn't be fair." Kevin 
shook his head grimly. 

Steve knew he was right. He was 
far too exhausted to argue, anyway. 
"Then we'll go as we are?" 

"Well, there are half a dozen 
others in the gate-house now, forc- 
ing information from some of the 
hosts." 

"What information?" 

"About sub-space, boy. A hunter 



53 

named McSweeney was possessed 
by a scientist of sorts, and he 
learned the sub-space gear is a com- 
pact little device which a man can 
carry. They store a few dozen of 
'em in the gate-house, and— hello !" 

Half a dozen men emerged from 
the stone structure, and one of them 
fell as a beam of energy seared out 
and caught him. A variety of crea- 
tures streamed out after them, trig- 
gering strange weapons. Soon the 
fighting became general, and it 
looked for a time as though the 
humans — without weapons of any 
sort — would be slaughtered. But 
Steve grabbed one of the stilt-crea- 
tures, twisted its neck quickly, heard 
a sharp cracking sound. The crea- 
ture fell and Steve plunged down 
with it, coming up with the hand- 
weapon and firing into the ranks 
that bore down upon them. 

As others of the aliens fell, men 
retrieved their weapons, fighting 
back with eyer-increased fire- 
power, although their ^numbers 
were decreasing. And battling thus, 
they broke through the gate and 
out among the purple-misted hills. 
Hissing beams of energy emitted 
sufficient light to see by, and 
Kevin's voice could be heard roar- 
ing above the sounds of fighting: 

"Stick together! If a man's lost in 
this purple fdg, he's done for! Stick 
together!" 

It was a nightmare. Steve fought 
shoulder to shoulder with Teejay. 
Now that he'd been reunited with 
her, there'd be no more separation, 
he vowed silently. Not unless he 
died here on the purple world. 

Energy beams crossed back and 
forth as the men retreated, stum- 
bling and darting among the little 



54 

hillocks. Time lost its normally rigid 
control. Hours might have been 
minutes, or the other way around. 
Time became utterly subjective, 
with each man living in his own 
particular continuum. For Steve it 
seemed at least a short version of 
eternity until they reached the 
Frank Buck. And when they did, 
dawn was streaking the horizon 
with pale blue radiance, casting a 
deep purple shadow from the ship 
to where they fought. 

It was Kevin who reached the 
airlock first, Kevin who sprung it 
open. Two by two they filed in, still 
facing the aliens and firing their 
weapons. At the last moment — 
when fully half of those who re- 
mained had entered the ship — the 
three anthrovacs appeared, came 
loping across the plain toward 
them. 

Steve cut the first one down and 
drew careful aim on the second. It 
wasn't necessary. The third anthro- 
vac abruptly turned on its fellow 
and sent it reeling, senseless, with 
one blow. In the confusion, its para- 
site must have been careless, must 
have relaxed its control. The 
anthrovac, which made a habit of 
miming men, whirled and began 
to wreck havoc among the pur- 
suers. 

It helped turn the tide of battle, 
and with Steve and Teejay, it was 
the last to enter the ship. 

'""TWENTY-TWO of us," 
J_ Kevin said grimly. "There 
are twenty-two who survived." 
They all sat about, nursing their 
wounds. The ship had flung itself 
through hyper-space, now hovered 



MILTON LESSER 

a million miles off Ganymede. 

"You're wrong. There* are 
twenty-three." It was Charlie Sted- 
man. In the darkness and con- 
fusion, he'd managed to fight his 
way back with them. But why? 

"Charlie!" Steve forgot the ques- 
tion. "You're free too." 

Charlie lifted a neutron gun. 
"No. You're wrong. None of us is 
free. You'll find a ship has followed 
you ^iere. And you're going to fol- 
low it back." 

Of course, Steve thought dully. 
Charlie was dead. Charlie could not 
return as himself. But they were 
right back where they started from, 
for the creature who was Charlie 
could force their return. 

Kevin stood near the viewport, 
spoke grimly. "He's not lying. 
There's a ship out there." 

Schuyler Barling smiled coldly, 
took up his position near Charlie. 
"You all rejected my command 
once," he said. "You shouldn't 
have. I had no desire to come back 
to Earth like that. I've also learned 
that I can share my body on an 
equal basis with my master, some- 
thing none of you would consider. 
Now we'll take you back." 

Almost eighty men had died — 
for nothing. Steve held Teejay's 
hand briefly, released it. One life 
more wouldn't matter, and if there 
were a chance. ... 

"Charlie, don't you remember 
anything?" 

' "What should I remember?" 

"I'm your brother." 

"That much I knew w,hen I 
called you on Ganymede. But there 
are no emotional ties. Keep back!" 

Steve took a step toward him. 
"You're my brother, and you 



JUNGLE IN THE SKY 

wouldn't kill me. You can't." 

It was wild, impossible, and he 
knew it. The creature was not his 
brother, had not been his brother 
for years. Yet if some small vestige 
of his brother's emotional memories 
remained — - 

"Keep back, I warn you!" 

Steve could see the finger tight- 
ening on the trigger when he dove. 
His shoulder jarred Charlie's knees, 
and they went d^wn together, roll- 
ing over and over on the floor. The 
neutron gun hissed once, between 
them, and Charlie relaxed. 

A smile tugged at the corners of 
his mouth for a moment, and he 
said, "Steve." He died that way, 
with the smile still on his lips. ■ 

Schuyler Barling was. laughing 
and screaming, froth flecking his 
chin. The delicate balance between 
parasite and host had been en- 
tangled, possibly beyond repair. 
Neither could dominate, and the 
result was a hopeless, gibbering 
hulk of a man. 

"Poor devil," said Kevin. "He'll 
get psychiatric treatment on Earth, 
if that will help." 

Steve crossed to the airlock, 
climbed into a spacesuit. 

"What the hell do you think 
you're doing?" Teejay wanted to 
know. 

"You're forgetting about the 
bther ship. We haven't got a blast- 
ing cannon on the Frank Buck, and 
there isn't one down on the Gordak, 
either. But with no absorbing me- 
dium in space, one of these neutron 
guns can be a potent weapon." 
Steve clamped the fishbowl helmet 
down over his head and activated 
the airlock. 

Soon he stood outside, with noth- 



55 

ing but space on three sides of him. 
On the fourth, his magnetic boots 
gripped the Frank Buck's steeloid 
hull as he set himself, ready to fire 
the small hand gun. 

Energy flared brightly from its 
muzzle, and the other ship, a slim, 
sinister shape miles off in the void, 
flared up with it and dissolved in a 
shower of sparks and mist. But the 
neutron gun had a kick which dis- 
lodged Steve from the hull and sent 
him spinning off into space. 

Through the lock -port, no more 
than four feet away, he saw Kevin 
donning a vac-suit. The big Exec 
reached out to grab him but his arm 
fell a full foot short. All at once, 
Kevin was dwarfed by the anthro- 
vac as the big animal joined him, 
scratching its head as Kevin 
reached out hopelessly irito space. 
The gap was increasing. 

Did the anthrovac understand? 
No, Steve thought; an anthrovac 
could .no more understand than a 
parrot could actually talk. But like 
a parrot, an anthrovac could 
mimic. 

A huge hairy arm reached out 
into space, the hand locking on 
Steve's gauntleted fist. He was 
drawn back into the Frank Buck 
and to safety, and it was many min- 
utes before they could stop the an- 
throvac from probing out experi- 
mentally into empty space. 



a ^y"OU KNOW," Steve told 
X Teejay and Kevin later, "I 

think at the last minute my brother 

understood." 

"It looked that way to me, boy," 

Kevin nodded. "So he died happy. 

But there's a lot of work for Earth 



56 

to do. We'll have to clear the Sys- 
tem of anything that remains here 
of Uashalume's power. And then 
maybe someday we'll have to get 
up an expedition and clean out that 
foul place." 

"One good thing came from it," 
Steve told them. "We've got sub- 
space drive now, and the stars are 
ours." He lit a cigarette, frowning. 
"But I think we ought to go easy 
on our game-hunting, and you can 
tell that to Brody Carmical or any- 
one else, Teejay. Those, creatures 
out there were hunters too, you 
know." 

"Forget about the past, will 
you?" Teejay snapped at him, then 



MILTON LESSER 

grinned when he looked hurt. "I 
still feel unclean, Steve. I'd love to 
sit in a hot bath for about twenty- 
four hours straight." 

Steve grinned back. "If we were 
married, I could scrub around your 
shoulder-blades for you." 

Kevin cleared his throat omi- 
nously. "They made me Captain 
of this ship, didn't they. What are 
we waiting for?" 

The ceremony was brief, and 
after it, Steve and Teejay hustled 
back to the recreation rooms and 
swimming pools with a bar of 
strong soap, a couple of washcloths, 
and a lot of pleasant ideas. 



THE END ■ 



A chat with the editor . . . 

Continued from page 3 

pleasant little town called Patterson 
— New York, not New Jersey — so 
I spend quite a little time on the 
road between points. 

About a week after our first issue 
hit the stands, I drove up to Kings- 
ton wistfully hoping there' d be a 
couple of dozen letters from fans 
and friends wishing us success. 
Well, a dozen, maybe, or at least a 
few postcards. 

I got into the office and asked 
Miss Bogert, our gal Monday- 
Friday, "What's with the IF cor- 
respondence?" 

"Over there," she said, pointing. 
I looked but all I could see was an 
old dirty canvas sack. 



"Come again." 

"In the bag." 

"In the bag!" 

It rocked me back on my heels. 
Mail for IF, loaded into a big can- 
vas sack and brought over- person- 
ally by Uncle Sam. I had never 
before in my life gotten mail the 
same way Sears Roebuck gets it. 
The thrill was memorable. 

The total figure for the first nine 
days on the newsstands was six 
hundred and twenty -four letters 
and cards. This, according to our 
very able distributors, is much bet- 
ter than completely satisfactory and 
slightly less than phenomenal. 

I was plenty embarrassed because 
I'd reserved only two pages for our 
letter column. From now on, much 
more space will be allocated. 
Continued on page 93 



Only one question seemed important in 
this huge space venture: Who was flying 
where? 



Welcome, Martians! 



By S. A. Lombino 



THE ONLY SOUND was the 
swish of the jets against the 
sand as the big ship came down. 
Slowly, nose pointed skyward, a 
yellow tail streaming out behind 
the tubes, it settled to the ground 
like a cat nuzzling its haunches 
against a velvet pillow. 

Dave Langley peered through the 
viewport. 

"I feel kind of funny," he said. 

A tremor of excitement flooded 
through Cal Manners' thin frame. 
"Mars," he whispered. "We made 
it." 

Gently, the fins probed the sand, 
poking into it. Cal cut the power 
and the big ship shuddered and re- 
laxed, a huge metal spider with a 
conical head. 

Cal peered through the viewport, 
his eyes scanning the planet. Behind 
him, Dave shrugged into a space 
suit, gathered up his instruments. 

"I'll make the tests," Dave said. 



"Keep the starboard guns trained 
on me." 

Cal nodded. He walked Dave to 
the airlock and lifted the toggles on 
the inner hatch. Dave stepped into 
the small chamber, and Cal 
snapped the hatch shut. 

He walked quickly to the star- 
board guns, wiggled into the plastic 
seat behind them and pitched his 
shoulders against the braces. Out- 
side, like a grotesque balloon, Dave 
stumbled around on weighted feet, 
taking his readings. 

What's out there? Cal wondered. 
Just exactly what? 

He tightened his grip on the big 
blasters, and trained the guns 
around to where Dave puttered in 
the sand. Dave suddenly stood' 
erect, waved at Cal, and started 
lumbering back toward the ship. 
Cal left the guns and went to the 
airlock. He stepped into the cham- 
ber closed the toggles on the hatch 



57 



58 * ■ 

behind him, and twirled the wheel 
on the outer hatch. He was ready to 
move back into the ship again when 
Dave stepped through the outer 
hatch, his helmet under his arm. 

"It's okay, Cal. Breathable at- 
mosphere. And the pressure- is all 
right, too." 

Gal let out a sigh of relief. "Come 
on." he said. "Get out of that 
monkey suit. Then we'll claim the 
planet for Earth." 

They went back into the ship, 
and Dave took off the suit, hanging 
it carefully in its locker. Both men 
strapped on holsters and drew stun 
guns from the munitions locker. 
They checked the charges in their 
weapons, holstered them, and 
stepped out into the Martian night. 

It was cold, but their clothing 
was warm and the air was invig- 
orating. Cal looked up at the sky. 

"Phobos," he said, pointing. 

"And Deimos," Dave added. 

"Ike and Mike." 

"Yeah." Dave smiled. 

"How do you feel, Dave?" Cal 
asked suddenly. 

"How do you mean?" 

"Mars. I mean, we're the first 
men to land on Mars. The first, 
Dave!" 

They were walking aimlessly, in 
no particular hurry. 

"It's funny," Dave said. "I told 
you before. I feel kind of — " 



THE MUSIC started abruptly, 
almost exploded into being, tore 
through the silence of the planet 
like the strident scream of a 
wounded animal. Trumpets blasted 
raucously, trombones moaned and 
slid, bass drums pounded a steady 



S. A. LOMBINO 

tattoo. Tubas, heavy and solemn 
like old men belching. Clarinets, 
shrill and squealing. Cymbals clash- 
ing. 

A military band blaring its march 
into the night. 

«Wha— " 

Dave's mouth hung open. He 
stared into the distance. 

There were lights, and the brass 
gleamed dully. A group of men 
were marching toward them, blow- 
ing on their horns, waving brilliiant 
banners in the air., 

"People," Cal said. 

"And music. Like ours. Music 
just like ours." 

The procession spilled across the 
sand like an unravelling spool of 
brightly colored silk. Children 
danced on« the outskirts of the 
group, hopping up and down, 
screaming in glee. Women waved 
banners, sang along with the band. 
And the music shouted out across 
the sand, a triumphal march with a 
lively beat. 

A fat man led the procession. He 
was beaming, his smile a great 
enamelled gash across his face. The 
music became louder, closer, ear- 
shattering now. 

"Welcome," the shouts rang out. 
"Welcome." 

"Welcome!" 

"English!" The word escaped 
Dave's lips, in a sudden hiss. "For 
God's sake, Cal, they're speaking 
English." 

"Something's wrong," Cal said 
tightly. "This isn't Mars. We've 
made a mistake, Dave." 

The fat man was closer now, still 
grinning, his stomach protruding, 
a gold watch hanging across his vest 
beneath his jacket. He wore a white 



WELCOME, MARTIANS! 

carnation in his buttonhole. A hom- 
burg, black, was perched solidly 
atop his head. 

"They're human," Dave whis- 
pered. 

The fat man stopped before 
them, raised his hands. The music 
ceased as abruptly as it had begun. 
He stepped forward and extended 
his hand. 

"Welcome home," he said. 

Welcome home! The words 
seared across Cal's mind with sud- 
den understanding. 

"There's some mistake . . ." he 
started. 

"Mistake?" The fat man chuck- 
led. "Nonsense, nonsense. I am 
Mayor Panley. You're back in New 
Calleth, gentlemen. The city is 
yours. The world is yours ! Welcome 
home." 

"You don't understand," Cal 
persisted. "We've just come from 
Earth. We've just travelled more 
than 50,000,000 miles through 
space. We're from Earth." 

"I know," the mayor said, "I 
know." 

"You know?" 

"But of course. Isn't it wonder- 
ful?" 

The crowd cheered behind him, 
telling the night how wonderful it 
was. 

Cal blinked, turned to Dave. The 
mayor put his arms about the two 
men. "We've been watching your 
approach for weeks. I'll have to 
admit we were a little worried in 
the beginning." 

"Worried?" 

The mayor began chuckling 
again. "Why yes, yes. Not that we 
didn't think you'd make it. But 
there were some who . . . ahh, here 



59 

are the television trucks now." 

The trucks wheeled across the 
sand, just like the thousands of 
trucks Cal had seen back on Earth. 
The television cameras pointed 
down at them, and the men stood 
behind them with earphones on. 

"Smile. Smile," the mayor whis- 
pered. 

Cal smiled. Dave, smiled, too. 

"Ladies and gentlemen," Mayor 
Panley said to the cameras, "It is 
the distinct honor of New Cal- 
leth. . ." 

The crowd raised their voices, 
drowning out his voice. The ban- 
ners waved, yellow, red, blue, 
orange. Welcome, welcome, wel- 
come. 

". . . the distinct honor of New 
Calleth to be able to welcome home 
Bobby Galus and Gary Dale." 

"Galus! Dale!" the voices sang, 
"Galus! Dale!" 

"Galus!" 

"Dale!" 

"Just a second," Cal interrupted. 
"You don't understand at all. 
Those aren't our . . ." 

"Four years in space," the mayor 
continued, "four years among the 
stars. To Earth and back, fellow 
citi2ens, for the glory of Mars." 

"You've got that twisted," Cal 
said. "We didn't ..." 

The mayor took Cal's elbow and 
turned him toward the cameras. 

"You were in space for four 
years, weren't you Captain Galus?" 

"Yes, we were. But it wasn't . . ." 

"Space!" the mayor gushed. 
"Limitless space. The first men to 
land on Earth." 

Again the cries of the crowd split 
the night. 

"Across the stretches of sky," the 



60 

mayor continued. "Across the un- 
chartered wilderness above, across 
the ..." 



THERE WERE banquets and 
more banquets, and women of 
every size and shape. The city of 
New Calleth went all out to wel- 
come the space travellers. Bobby 
Galus and Gary Dale. 

At the end of a week of festivity, 
the mayor came to Cal and Dave. 

"Have you enjoyed your stay, 
boys?" he asked. 

"It was swell," Cal said, "but 
you've got things all. . ." 

"I was wondering when you 
planned, on leaving for the capitol. 
Don't misunderstand me. We'd like 
you to stay as long as you want to, 
but. 

"For God's sake," Cal snapped, • 
"will you please listen to me?" 

Mayor Panley was visibly shaken. 
"Why, of course, Captain Galus. Of 
course. Why, certainly." 

He lapsed into silence. 

"I'm not Bobby Galus," Cal said. 
"And this isn't Gary Dale." 

The mayor nodded his head. 
"You're . . . not . . . Galus and 
Dale," he said slowly. 

"That's right," Cal said. "We 
didn't go to Earth. We came from 
there. This is the first time we've 
ever been on, Mars. Do you under- 
stand? We're Earthmen." 

"Earthmen?" The mayor con- 
sidered this for a second and then 
burst out laughing. "Why, that's 
preposterous. Absolutely preposter- 
ous!" His laugh rose in volume to 
a bellow. "Oh, you're joking. I 
should have known. You're only 
joking." 



S. A. LOMBINO 

"We're not joking. This is all 
some kind of a horrible mistake. 
We're the first men to land on 
Mars. You've got to understand 
that," Dave pleaded. 

The mayor was still laughing. He 
walked to the door and opened it. 
"All right, boys, have your little 
joke. You've earned the right to it. 
I'll make arrangements for you to 
leave for Dome City in the morn- 
ing." He shook his head and 
chuckled again. "Earthmen. Tch- 
tch." And then he was gone. 

They sat alone in the hotel room. 
It looked like any Earth hotel 
they'd ever been in. A big soft bed. 
A wall' telephone. Two dressers. 
Two armchairs. A big mirror over 
one of the dressers. A television set 
on the other dresser. 

"This is screwy," Dave said. "Is it 
possible we're back on Earth? Is it 
possible the joke is on us? Maybe 
everyone is just ribbing us. Maybe 
we've been going around in circles 
for four years. Maybe. . ." 

"No," Cal said. "We're on Mars 
all right. I don't know exactly how 
to explain it, but I've got an idea." 

"What's that?" Dave asked. 

Cal shrugged. "Probably all 
wrong, of course. But it has some- 
thing to do with comparable devel- 
opment of cultures on different 
planets." 

"You mean Mars is in exactly the 
same state of development as 
Earth?" 

"Something like that. You know 
the theory. Give two different 
places the same materials to start 
with, and their cultures will run 
parallel to each other for the rest 
of their existence." 

"Sure," Dave said. "But these 



WELCOME, MARTIANS! 

guys Galus and Dale. How the hell 
could we possibly be mistaken for 
them?" 

"I don't know." Cal leaned back 
on the bed and stared at the ceil- 
ing. "Maybe we'll find out in Dome 
City." 

"Maybe," Dave repeated hol- 
lowly. 



THE PRESIDENT of the planet 
greeted their ship in Dome 
City. There were more parades, 
banners, bands, banquets, reporters, 
cameras, confetti, women, speeches, 
presentations. 

And at last, they stood before the 
President's desk, two bodyguards 
standing on either side of him. He 
was a thin man, slightly balding, 
with rimless glasses. 

, "Gentlemen," he said, "I don't 
have to tell you how pleased I am." 

Cal took a deep breath. "We've 
been trying to tell Mayor Panley," 
he said, "that we are not Galus 
and Dale." 

The President smiled. "I know. 
He told me of your little joke." 

"It's not a joke." 

The President cocked an eye- 
brow. "No?" He looked at his body- 
guards. "Has space affec . . . did 
you feel any ill effects in space?" 
he asked. 

Cal grimaced. "Oh great! Now 
he thinks we're psycho. Look, can't 
you get this through your heads? 
We are from Earth. We never 
heard of Galus and Dale. My name 
is Calvin Manners, and this is 
David Langley." 

"Very interesting," the President 
said. He tapped his finger on the 
back of his other hand and stared 



61 

at the two Earthmen. 

He reached over toward the in- 
tercom on his desk then and pressed 
a button. 

"Yes?" a woman's voice asked. 

"Miss Daniels, will you bring in 
the photos of Capt. Galus and Lt. 
Dale, please?" 

"Yes, sir.'_' 

The President turned to the two 
men again. "Those are your ranks, 
are they not?" 

"Yes, but we're in the United • 
States Army." 

"The what?" 

"The United States Army. The 
United States is a country on 
Earth." 

"Really? Now we're getting 
somewhere. What else does Earth 
have? What is it like? Are the in- 
habitants intelligent?" 

"Yes, we are. We're Earthmen, 
can't you understand that?" 

"I think you're carrying this joke 
a little too far, gentlemen. A joke 
is a joke, but we've spent millions 
of dollars on your trip. Really, this 
is no time for banter." 

Cal opened his mouth, ready to 
protest, just as the outside door 
swung wide. An attractive blonde in 
a smart suit stepped into the room 
and walked to the President's desk. 
She kept her eyes glued to the two 
Earthmen, dropped two large pho- 
tographs on the desk, and turned. 
She stared over her shoulder at 
Cal and Dave until she was gone. 

The President smiled knowingly. 
"The women are falling all over 
you two, I imagine." 

"We're both married," Cal said 
drily. "We don't care for all this. . ." 

"Married?" The President was 
shocked. "I thought we'd distinct- 



62 



S. A. LOMBINO 



ly chosen unmarried men for the 
job. Strange." 

"We've got wives on Earth," 
Dave said. 

"Ah-ha," the President said. 
"Then they are intelligent beings- 
Pity, pity." , 

A twinge of anticipation curled 
up Cal's spine. "Pity? Why a pity? 
Why do you say that?" 

"Well, you know. Surely you re- 
alized this was the only flight we 
could afford." 

"What?" 

"For the meantime, anyway. We 
may attempt another flight in fifty 
years, sixty perhaps, maybe more. 
But you've already proved space 
travel, Capt. Galus. The achieve- 
ment is ours. All we need now is 
money to . . ." 

"Damn it, I'm not Capt. Galus," 
Cal shouted. "And we've got to get 
back to Earth. I've got a kid, Mr. 
President. He's six years old 
and . . ." Cal stopped abruptly. 
"Oh, this is all nonsense. Why am I 
arguing with you? Can't you un- 
derstand that we are Earthmen? 
What do we have to do to prove 
it?" 

The President sighed and turned 
over the photographs on the desk. 
They were glossy prints of two men 
in uniform. They were young men, 
in khaki, smiles on their faces. 

One man looked exactly like Cal- 
vin Manners. 

The other strongly resembled 
David Langley. 

"Here are your photographs," 
the President said. "This is you, 
captain, and you, lieutenant. They 
were taken before the trip. You're 



younger, of course." 

Cal stared at the photograph. It 
could have been he. The nose was 
a little sharper, perhaps, and the 
face thinner. But it could have been 
he. It could have been he! 

"It's a freak accident," he 
shouted. "A coincidence in two 
parallel cultures, a . . ." 

He saw the look on the Presi- 
dent's face then. It was a cold look, 
and a suspicious one. Cal stopped 
speaking, sweat staining the arm- 
pits of his uniform shirt. 

The President grinned again. 
"That's better. I understand the 
strain of space, gentlemen, but we 
must be practical, mustn't we?" 

He paused. "Shall we talk about 
Earth now?" 

THE ONLY sound was the swish 
of the jets against the grass as 
the big ship came down. Slowly, 
nose pointed skyward, a yellow tail 
streaming out behind the tubes, it 
settled to the ground like a cat 
nuzzling its haunches against a vel- 
vet pillow. . 

In the distance, the lights of New 
York danced crazily, gleaming from 
a thousand spires that scratched 
the sky. The radios blared forth ex- 
citedly, and the police v cars 
screamed through the night as they 
rushed to City Hall to pick up the 
mayor. 

Inside the ship, Gary Dale peered 
through the viewport. 

"I feel kind of funny," he said. 

A tremor of excitement flooded 
through Bobby Galus' thin frame. 

"Earth," he whispered. "We 
made it." 



-THE END- 



Personalities 



IN SCIENCE FICTION 



RAYMOND A. PALMER 

While his circulation climbed, 
the stf world wondered 



EARLY IN 1944, a letter 
addressed to the Discussions 
column of Amazing Stories, was 
opened by Howard Browne, then 
managing editor of the Z-D pulp 
chain. The letter was signed by a 
resident of Pennsylvania named 
Richard S. Shaver. Browne read 
the letter, snorted with character- 
istic honesty, and tossed it into the 
wastebasket. Browne's exact remark 
relative to the letter is not recorded. 
Possibly it contained the word 
"crackpot". The gist of it was cer- 
tainly: "That's the last anyone will 
ever see of that." . ., 

But Browne was wrong. He reck- 
oned without the subsequent activi- 
ties of a much-debated genius 
named Raymond A. Palmer, then 
editor of Amazing, known through- 
out the stf field as rap, those being 
the initials Vith which he signed 
editorials. Palmer retrieved the let- 
ter, visualized its possibilities — pos- 
sibilities which would have entirely 
escaped nine editors out of ten — 



and the so-called Shaver Mystery 
was born. 

The Shaver Mystery did many 
things. It attracted a great many, 
people; it angered a great many 
other people; it became the most 
widely discussed of all science fic- 
tion facets, bringing howls of de- 
nunciation from not only the or- 
ganized fan clubs, but also from 
some of the most widely circulated 
and highly respected magazines in 
the nation, several of which lashed 
out bitterly at this "highly danger- 
ous nonsense". 

And — not to be overlooked — the 
Shaver Mystery added all extra 
50,000 copies per month to the cir- 
culation of Amazing Stories, the 
bellwether of the Ziff-Davis pulp 
chain. 

A good many students of the un- 
usual made exhaustive investiga- 
tions into the phenomenon salvaged 
so astutely from Browne's waste- 
basket. But the vast majority of 
them erred in basic procedure. 
They sought answers to such ques- 
tions as: What is the Shaver Mys- 
tery? Who is Richard S. Shaver? 

Their prime question should 
have been: Who is Raymond A. 
Palmer? 

Shaver himself is of minor in- 
terest in the investigation of the 



63' 



64 



PERSONALITIES 



science fiction bombshell which 
bears his name. He was — and still 
is— a highly competent writer con- 
cerning whom, Palmer states : 

Shaver encouraged by the publi- 
cation of the letter, sent the rest of 
his secret — the story of the Titans, 
Atlantis, and the caves of today. 
10,000 words of "A. Warning To 
Future Man", to be printed as a 
letter without pay. He had no 
thought of being an "author". So I 
rewrote, making it 31,000, largely 
Palmer. I still have the original 
manuscript if anyone would like 
proof it was not submitted as a 
story. It wasn't. Only the secret. 
And with that, Shaver would have 
rested. 

But I wanted to show . . . writers 
aren't geniuses, or even special peo- 
ple, or even "educated" . Just so 
they know 800 words and have an 
imagination. Shaver had both. 

No one could disagree with this 
last except to suggest that rap far 
understates the extent of Shaver's 
vocabulary. Shaver wrote — under 
his own name and many pen names 
— the original drafts of all the 
stories hinging upon the mystery. 
But above and behind him loomed 
the figure of Raymond A. Palmer, 
eliminating almost completely, 
Shaver's importance as a subject 
for investigation relative to the 
works in question. 



PALMER'S early history was 
highlighted by appalling mis- 
fortune, great adversity and high 
courage. He was born in Mil- 
waukee, Wisconsin on August 1st, 
1910. At the age of seven he was 



run over by a truck and permanent-r 
ly crippled. 

This last is worthy of note be- 
cause there is reason to believe it 
engendered within him a bitterness 
he never outgrew. It also may be 
responsible for at least a portion of 
the brilliance of Palmer's mind. He 
has many friends, but to arrive at 
the point of really knowing him is a 
long and difficult process at which 
few have succeeded. His most dis- 
cernible characteristic is beyond 
doubt a never-yielding determina- 
tion. He is a prolific writer, and he 
speaks of his early struggles in that 
field: 

// / knew an editor was in the 
market for a story, he'd have to buy 
it from me. If he wanted a sixty- 
thousand word novel, I'd have it 
there when the doors opened. If he 
wanted a five, or a ten, or a fifteen- 
thousand worder, I'd be there with 
it before anybody else. 

As a result of this energy and the 
ability to produce, he sold an as- 
tounding amount of fiction. Three 
and a half million words, a good 
percentage of which he produced 
while functioning for eight years as 
a sheet metal worker; ten years as 
a bookkeeper ; four years as an esti- 
mator in the building trades. 

Palmer's noteworthy career really 
began when he was offered the edi- 
torship of Amazing Stories in 1938. 
The title was purchased by William 
Ziff from The Teck Publishing 
Company, and Palmer took over 
the editorial chair in Chicago. 

From some strange whim rather 
than of necessity, Palmer followed 
the Spartan pattern the first few 
months of his editorship, spending 
each day exactly 37c for food. This 



SCIENCE FICTION 

amount was divided into a nickel 
for breakfast, eleven cents for lunch, 
and a nightly banquet upon which 
he squandered twenty-one cents. 

Later, as the circulation of his 
magazine climbed, Palmer allo- 
cated somewhat more of his funds 
to the inner man. 

After 1938, things got steadily 
better in the fiction field. Under 
Palmer's guidance, the Ziff-Davis 
string expanded. Western, detec- 
tivey^and adventure books were 
added. These Palmer turned over 
to new editors, keeping for him- 
self Amazing Stories and a partial 
.hand on the helm of Fantastic Ad- 
ventures, its companion book. So, 
when Shaver's letter figuratively 
jumped into Palmer's hands, he 
was ready for it. And he knew, that 
readers of science fiction were ready 
for it. 

After the first reader-reaction, 
Palmer went to Pennsylvania for a 
personal visit with Shaver, gave 
him the green light, and went back 
to Chicago to check circulation 
figures. They were indeed gratify- 
ing. Letters began pouring in, abus- 
ing Shaver and praising him. 



SHAVER'S case was based on 
information he claims to have 
received — voices which spoke to 
him, first through a turret lathe 
upon which he worked in a war 
plant. Many correspondents 
claimed company with Shaver in 
hearing the voices. Other corre- 
spondents took the view that 
Shaver was plain nuts- — that his 
copy was dangerous and should be 
removed from the newsstands. The 



65 

fan clubs cluttered the mails with 
wrathy epistles, boycotting Palmer's 
"mystery" and consigning it to 
damnation. Then the club members 
dashed to the stands for the next 
issue of Amazing to see if their let- 
ters had been published. 

Palmer smiled, published them, 
and published more Shaver. Circu- 
lation zoomed. 



JUST what all the shouting was 
about is hard to determine. An 
understanding revulsion was felt in 
some Quarters to the heavy sex-and- 
sadism flavor of "the copy. It had a 
distinct Kraft-Ebbing touch and 
could hardly be rated as cheerful 
reading. 

There appeared to be no great 
secret nor any unsolvable mystery. 
The so-called mystery appeared to 
be the premise-frame upon which 
Shaver hung reams of erotic copy. 
The voices to which Shaver's re- 
markable ear was attuned, told him 
of a race of superior beings who 
purportedly inhabited the earth un- 
told ages ago. This race functioned 
with benefit of mechanical gadgetry 
far in advance of our present equip- 
ment of that type. 

This advanced race; Shaver tells 
us, held sway over an inferior race 
of beings who bore them no good 
will whatever and would have done 
them in had the opportunity pre- 
sented itself. They were held in 
check however, 

Eventually, the superior race, en- 
tirely familiar with space-travel, set 
out for greener planets. The in- 
ferior race, termed "deros", was 
left behind with all the advanced 



66 



PERSONALITIES 



equipment known in the story- 
series as "mech". 

And, Shaver vows, the deros are 
still with us ; living in caves under 
the earth, and doing their very best 
to make things miserable for those 
who live topside. There are no 
tricks to which the deros will 
not stoop. They cause men to fail 
in both business and social life. 
They arrange nervous breakdowns. 
They jammed up Editor Palmer's 
typewriter and stole pertinent copy 
off his desk. They man the flying 
saucers that have bewildered our 
population for some time. 
. Shaver's source of information 
was bottomless; he put it into 
stories; Palmer printed the stories. 
Circulation continued its" happy 
ascent. 

Such a bomb as this one, how- 
ever, was slated by the very nature 
of things for a final explosion of 
some sort. The explosion came ab- 
ruptly — when the public clamor for 
an execution reached the ears of 
William Ziff in the front office. 



ZIFF-DAVIS is a large com- 
pany. They publish a number 
of magazines other than those in 
their pulp chain. Also, at the time 
in question, they were publishing 
both hard-cover books and a series 
of smaller volumes retailing below 
a dollar. Mr. Ziff is a civic-minded 
individual who gave and still gives 
a great deal of his time to projects 
outside his firm. For these reasons, 
he probably gave little attention to 
the pulp group, knowing it to be in 
competent hands. So it is entirely 
probable that when he first heard 



mention of the Shaver Mystery, he 
knew far less about it than the aver- 
age reader of science fiction ; stf be- 
ing a field of letters in which Mr. 
Ziff had little time to pleasure him- 
self. 

But he made a point of looking 
in on the works of Mr. Shaver and 
had but one comment : "Kill it." 

Palmer has an added explana- 
tion: / had decided to go into the 
publishing business on my own. 
Naturally I would have to quit 
when I brought out a book in com- 
petition with Z-D. So I thought 
ahead — two years — and asked my- 
self if Howard Browne .-. . could 
handle this hot potato. . . . J 
couldn't saddle my successor with 
a bomb like that. So I tapered the 
Mystery off, then killed it myself. I 
worked it so Ziff would disapprove. 

Another example of Palmer's 
ability is the Jesse James affair. 
This was probably his greatest pro- 
motional attempt. Its failure was 
due to circumstances beyond his 
control. He states: 

I had befriended the wife of a 
former Chief of Detectives (1901 ) 
of St. Louis and who "knew" Frank 
James and all the other "boys" per- 
sonally [In both cases the quotes 
are Palmer's]. She came to me with 
a revelation that a Dalton, out west, 
had told her he was J J and would 
she act as a confidante for his story 
or confession. She brought photos. 
I compared ears, decided Dalton . 
really was James. 1 paid her way 
and that of her husband, to Okla- 
homa to find out. Her husband 
identified the man positively. . . . I 
went to the nearest radio commen- 
tator — the story was off . . . Today 
half of America believes it really 



SCIENCE FICTION 

was Jesse and the other half laughs. 
Me? I know it was Jesse. I have 
the proof . . . Jesse's dead now. 
Just a few' weeks ago. For the last 
time. There'll never be another 
claimant. I made sure af that . . . 



PALMER left a great deal un- 
said in his statement. A great 
deal which indicates the laughing 
half of America has by far the best 
case. One interesting sidelight on 
the affair was that the couple who 
brought Palmer the great news also 
offered proof that Billy the Kid 
(William Bonney) and Quantrall, 
the Missouri raider, were alive and 
well. If the evidence of these peo- 
ple is to be taken, it must be as- 
sumed that no one really dies. 

Mathematically, the chance of 
Dalton being James, are exactly 
twenty to one; that including 
James himself and the nineteen pre- 
tenders who have come forward 
through the years. And Palmer is 
probably right in the assertion that 
the last James has been buried. 
There are very few men aged one 
hundred and ten with the strength 
to come forward. 

Two points, still unmentioned 
relative to the James affair, are im- 
portant in that they indicate Palmer 
has never deviated an inch from his 
basic and admirable talent — that of 
selling magazines. When the Dal- 
ton-James proposition came to 
light, Palmer secured a contract 
and began immediately planning a 
Jesse James Western Magazine. At 
the same time he set his eye on the 
Chicago Railroad Fair and thought 
what a publicity scoop it would be 



67 

if the roads would recognize and 
honor Dalton-James by allotting 
him a day in their program. This, 
Palmer believed — and rightly so — 
would be the clincher. 

But Major Lennox Lohr, in 
charge of the affair, didn't care 
whether Dalton was James or not. 
He took a dim view of honoring a 
man whose name was synonymous 
with lawlessness. Immediately upon 
the heels of this decision, Palmer's 
interest in Dalton became strictly 
academic. 

So the Shaver Mystery and the 
affair Dalton-James, have two 
points in common. Neither can 
stand up under even preliminary 
examination. And both are amaz- 
ingly good copy. 

Labeling both of them hoaxes 
may be construed as criticism of 
Palmer. It is not meant to be. This 
is a day of supersalesmanship. 
Hoaxes far more dangerous and 
sinister are arranged in advertising 
agencies every day. Claims made in 
blatant print relative to deodorants, 
cigarettes, trusses, and dozens of 
other products are far more pre- 
posterous than the assertion that a 
lot of little men called deros are 
giving us a bad time. This last be- 
comes almost probable when lined 
up beside a statement that a bar of 
soap will make a woman beautiful 
in two weeks. 

So, in these times of drab and un- 
convincing falsehood, there is still 
something to be thankful for. A 
Palmer promotion has the touch of 
genius. It has zing, sparkle, and 
true showmanship. It can be 
spotted a mile away by the bright 
lights. The thing to do is sit back 
and enjoy it. — pwf 




'Are you ready for me, Asir?" 



Strange gods were worshipped on Mars. 
But were they so clever? They'd lost their 
own world. 



It Takes a Thief 



By Walter Miller, Jr. 



THE ANCIENT GODS, our Fa- 
thers, rode down from the heav- 
ens in the Firebirds of the Sun. 
Coming into the world, they found 
no air for the breath of their souls. 
"How shall we breathe?" they 
asked of the Sun. And Sun gave 
them of His fire and beneath the 
earth they kindled the Blaze of the 
Great Wind. Good air roared from 
the womb of Mars our Mother, the 
ice burned with a great thunder, 
and there was air for the breath of 
Man." 

FROM AN OLD MARTIAN LEGEND 

A thief, he was about to die like 
a thief. 

He hung from the post by his - 
wrists. The wan sunlight glistened 
faintly on his naked back as he 
waited, eyes tightly closed, lips 
moving slowly as he pressed his face 
against the rough wood and stood 
on tiptoe to relieve the growing 



ache in his shoulders. When his 
ankles ached, he hung by the nails 
that pierced his forearms just above 
the wrists. 

He was young, perhaps in his 
tenth Marsyear, and his crisp black 
hair was close-cropped in the fash- 
ion of the bachelor who had not yet 
sired a pup, or not yet admitted 
that he had. Lithe and sleek, with 
the quick knotty muscles and slen- 
der rawhide limbs of a wild thing, 
half -fed and hungry with a quick 
furious hunger that crouched in 
ambush. His face, though twisted 
with pain and fright, remained that 
of a cocky pup. 

When he opened his eyes he 
could see the low hills of Mars, sun- 
washed and gray-green with trees, 
trees brought down from the heav- 
ens by the Ancient Fathers. But he 
could also see the executioner in the 
foreground, sitting spraddlelegged 
and calm while he chewed, a blade 



69 



70 

of grass and waited. A squat man 
with a thick face, he occasionally 
peered at the thief with empty blue 
eyes — while he , casually played 
mumblety-peg with the bleeding- 
blade. His stare was blank. 

"Ready for me yet, Asir?'* he 
grumbled, not unpleasantly. 

The knifeman sat beyond spitting 
range, but Asir spat, and tried to 
wipe his chin on the post. "Your 
dirty mother!" he mumbled. 

The executioner chuckled and 
played mumblety-peg. 

After three hours of dangling 
from the spikes that pierced his 
arms, Asir was weakening, and the 
blood throbbed hard in his temples, 
with each jolt of his heart a sep- 
arate pulse of pain. The red sticki- 
ness had stopped oozing down his 
arms; they knew how fo drive the 
spike just right. But the heartbeats 
labored in his head like a hammer 
beating at red-hot iron. 

How many heartbeats in a life- 
time — and how many left to him 
now? 

He whimpered and writhed, be- 
ginning to lose all hope. Mara had 
gone to see the Chief Commoner, 
to plead with him for the pilferer's 
life — but Mara was about as trust- 
worthy as a wild huffen, and he 
had visions of them chuckling to- 
gether in Tokra's villa over a glass 
of amber wine, while life drained 
slowly from a young .thief. 

Asir regretted nothing. His father 
had been a renegade before him, 
had squandered his last ritual 
formula to buy a wife, then im- 
poverished, had taken her away to 
the hills. Asir was born in the hills, 
but he came back to the village of 
his ancestors to work as a servant 



WALTER MILLER, JR. 

and steal the rituals of his masters. 
No thief could last for long. A 
ritual-thief caused havoc in the 
community. The owner of a holy 
phrase, not knowing that it had 
been stolen, tried to spend it — and 
eventually counter-claims would 
come to light, and a general ac- 
counting had to be called. The thief 
was- always found out. 

Asir had stolen more than 
wealth, he had stolen the strength 
of their souls. For this they hung 
him by his wrists and waited for 
him to beg for the bleeding-blade. 

Woman thirsts for husband, 
Man thirsts for wife, 
Baby thirsts for breast-milk 
Thief thirsts for knife ... 

A rhyme from his childhood, a 
childish chant, an eenie-meenie- 
miney for determining who should 
drink first from a nectar-cactus. He 
groaned and tried to shift his 
weight more comfortably. Where 
was Mara? 



"R 



EADY for me yet, Asir?" 
the squat man asked. 
Asir hated him with narrowed 
eyes. The executioner was bound by 
law to wait until his victim re- 
quested his fate. But Asir remained 
ignorant of what the fate would be. 
The Council of Senior Kinsmen 
judged him in ■ secret, and passed 
sentence as to what the executioner 
would do with the knife. But Asir 
was not informed of their judg- 
ment. He knew only that when he 
asked for it, the executioner would 
advance with the bleeding-blade 
and exact the punishment — his life, 



IT TAKES A THIEF 



71 



or an amputation, depending on 
the judgment. He might lose only 
an eye or an ear or a finger. But on 
the other hand, he might lose his 
life, both arms, or his masculinity; 

There was no way to find out 
until he asked for the punishment; 
If he refused to ask, they would 
leave him hanging there. In theory, 
a thief could escape by hanging 
four days, after which the exeCU-* 
tioner would pull out the hails. 
Sometimes a culprit managed £t s 
but when the nails were pulled, the 
thing that toppled was already a 
corpse. 

The sUn was sinking in the west, 
and it blinded him. Asir knew 
about the sun — knew things the 
stupid council failed to know. A 
thief, if successful, frequently be- 
came endowed with wisdom, for he 
memorized more wealth than a 
score of honest men. Quotations 
from the ancient gods-^Fermi, 
Einstein, Elgermann, Hanser and 
the rest — most men owned scat- 
tered phrases, and scattered phrases 
remained meaningless. But a thief 
memorized all transactions that he 
overheard, and the countless 
phrases could be fitted together into 
meaningful ideas. 

He knew now that Mars, once 
dead, was dying again, its air leak- 
ing away once more into space. And 
Man would die with it, unless some- 
thing were done, and done quickly. 
The Blaze of the Great Wind 
needed to be rekindled under the 
earth, but it would not be done. 
The tribes had fallen into ignor- 
ance, even as the holy books had 
warned : 

It is realized that the colonists 
will be unable to maintain a tech- 



nology without basic tools* and 
that a rebuilding will require sev- 
eral generations of intelligently di- 
rected effort. Given the knowledge* 
the colonists may be able to restore 
a machine culture if the knowledge 
continues to be bolstered by desire. 
But if the third, fourth, and Nth 
generations fail to further the grad- 
ual retooling process, the knowledge 
will become worthless. 

The quotation was from the god 
Roggins, Progress of the Mars-Cul- 
ture, and he had stolen bits of it 
from various sources. The books 
themselves were no longer in ex- 
istence, remembered only in mem- 
orized ritual chants, the possession 
of which meant wealth, 

Asif Was sick. Pain and slow loss 
of blood made him weak, and his 
vision blurred. He failed to see her 
Coming until he heard her feet 
rustling in the dry grass. 

"Mara—" 

She smirked and spat contemptu- 
ously at the foot of the post. The 
daughter of a Senior Kinsman, she 
was a tall, slender girl with an arro- 
gant strut and mocking eyes. She 
stood for a moment with folded, 
arms, eyeing him with amusement. 
Then, slowly, one eye closed in a 
solemn wink. She turned her back 
on him and spoke to the execu- 
tioner. 

"May I taunt the prisoner 1 , SlU- 
bil?" she asked. 

"It is forbidden to speak to the 
thief," growled the knifeman. 

"Is he ready to beg for justice, 
Slubil?" 

The knifeman grinned and 
looked at Asir. "Are you ready for 
me yet, thief?" 

Asir hissed an insult. The girl 



72 

had betrayed him. 

"Evidently a coward," she said. 
"Perhaps he means to hang four 
days." 

"Let him then." 

"No— I think that I should like 
to see him beg." 

She gave Asir a long searching 
glance, then turned to walk away. 
The thief cursed her quietly and 
followed her with his eyes. A dozen 
steps away she stopped again, 
looked back over her shoulder, and 
repeated the slow wink. Then she 
marched on toward her father's 
house. The wink made his scalp 
crawl for a moment, but then . . . 

Suppose she hasn't betrayed me? 
Suppose she had wheedled the sen- 
tence out of Tokra, and knew what 
his punishment would be. / think 
that I should like to see him beg. 

But on the other hand, the fickle 
she-devil might be tricking him into 
asking for a sentence that she knew 
would be death or dismemberment 
—just to amuse herself. 

He cursed inwardly and trem- 
bled as he peered at the bored 
executioner. He licked his lips and 
fought against dizzyness as he 
groped for words. Slubil heard him 
muttering and looked up. 

"Are you ready for me yet?" 



ASIR closed his eyes and gritted 
his teeth. "Give it to me!" he 
yelped suddenly, and braced him- 
self against the post. 

Why not? The short time gained 
couldn't be classed as living. Have 
it done with. Eternity would be 
sweet in comparison to this ignomy. 
A knife could be a blessing. 
. He heard the executioner chuckle 



WALTER MILLER, JR.. 

and stand up. He heard the man's 
footsteps approaching slowly, and 
the singing hiss of the knife as Slu- 
bil swung it in quick arcs. The exe- 
cutioner moved about him slowly, 
teasing him with the whistle of steel 
fanning the air about him. He was 
expected to beg. Slubil occasionally 
laid the knife against his skin and 
took it away again. Then Asir 
heard the rustle of the execution- 
er's cloak as his arm went back. 
Asir opened his eyes. 

The executioner grinned as he 
held the blade high — aimed at 
Asir's head! The girl had tricked 
him. He groaned and closed his 
eyes again, muttering a half-for- 
gotten prayer. 

The stroke fell — and the blade 
chopped into the post above his 
head. Asir fainted. 

When he awoke he lay in a crum- 
pled heap on the ground. The exe- 
cutioner rolled him over with his 
foot. 

"In view of ypur extreme youth, 
thief," the knifeman growled, "the 
council has ordered you perpetually 
banished. The sun is setting. Let 
dawn find you in the hills. If you 
return to the plains, you will be 
chained to a wild hiiffen and 
dragged to death." 

Panting weekly, Asir groped at 
his forehead, and found a fresh 
wound, raw and rubbed with rust 
to make a scar. Slubil had marked 
him as an outcast. But except for 
the nail-holes through his forearms, 
he was still in one piece. His hands 
were numb, and he could scarcely 
move his fingers. Slubil had bound 
the spike-wounds, but the bandages 
were bloody and leaking. 

When the knifeman had gone, 



IT TAKES A THIEF 

Asir climbed weakly to his feet. 
Several of the townspeople stood 
nearby, snickering at him. He 
ignored their catcalls and staggered 
toward the outskirts of the village, 
ten minutes away. He had to speak 
to Mara, and to her father if the 
crusty oldster would listen. His 
thiefs knowledge weighed Upon 
him and brought desperate fear. 

Darkness had fallen by the time 
he came to Welkir's house. The 
people spat at him in the streets, 
and some of them flung handfuls of 
loose dirt after him as he passed. A 
light flickered feebly through 
Welkir's door. Asir rattled it and 
waited. 

Welkir came with a lamp. He set 
the lamp on the floor and stood 
with feet spread apart, arms folded, 
glaring haughtily at the thief. His 
face was stiff as weathered stone. 
He said nothing, but only stared 
contemptuously. 

Asir bowed his head. "I have 
come to plead with you, Senior 
Kinsman. 

Welkir snorted disgust. "Against 
the mercy we have shown you?" 

He looked up quickly, shaking 
his head. "No! For that I am grate-- 
ful." 

"What then?" - 

"As a thief, I acquired much 
wisdom. I know that the World is 
dying, and the air is boiling out of 
i it into the sky. I wish to be heard 
by the council. We must Study the 
words of the ancients and perform 
their magic, lest our children's chil- 
dren be born to strangle in a dead 
world." 

Welkir snorted again. He picked 
up the lamp. "He who listens to a 
thief's wisdom is cursed. He who 



73 

acts upon it is doubly cursed and 
a party to the Crime." 

"The vaults," Asir insisted. "The 
'key to the Blaze of the Winds is in 
the vaults. The god Roggins tells 
us in the words — " 

"Stop! I will not hear!" 

"Very well, but the blaze can be 
rekindled, and the air renewed. The 
vaults — " He stammered and shook 
his head. "The council must hear 
me." 

"The council will hear nothing, 
and you shall be gone before dawn. 
And the vaults are guarded by the 
sleeper called Big Joe. To enter is 
to die. Now go away." 



WELKIR stepped back and 
slammed the door. Asir 
sagged in defeat. He sank down on 
the doorstep to rest a moment. The 
night was black, except for lamp- 
flickers from an occasional window. 

"Ssssst!" 

A sound from the shadows. He 
looked around quickly, searching 
for the source. 

"Ssssst! Asir!'; 

It was the "girl Mara, Welkir's 
daughter. She had slipped out the 
back of the house and was peering 
at him around the corner. He arose 
quietly and went to her. 

"What did Slubil do to you?" she 
whispered. 

Asir gasped and caught her 
shoulders angrily. "Don't you 
know?" 

"No! Stop! You're hurting me. 
Tokra wouldn't tell me. I made 
love to him, but he wouldn't tell." 

He released her with an angry 
curse. 

"You had to take it sometime/' 



74 

she hissed. "I knew if you waited 
you would be too weak from hang- 
ing to even run away." 

He called her a foul name. 

"Ingrate!" she snapped. "And I 
bought you a huff en!" 

"You what?" 

"Tokra gave me a ritual phrase 
and I bought you a hiiffen with it. 
You can't walk to the hills, you 
know." 

Asir burned with dull rage. "You 
slept with Tokra!" he snapped. 

"You're jealous!" she tittered. 

"How can I be jealous! I hate 
the sight of you!" 

"Very well then, I'll keep the 
hiiffen." 

"Do!" he growled. "I won't need 
it, since I'm not going to the hills!" 

She gasped. "You've got to go, 
you fool! They'll kill you!" 

He turned away, feeling sick. She 
caught at his arm and tried to pull 
him back. "Asir! Take the hiiffen 
and go!" 

"I'll go," he growled. "But not to 
the hills. I'm going out to the 
vault." 

He stalked away, but she trotted 
along beside him, trying to tug him 
back. "Fool! The vaults are sacred! 
The priests guard the entrance, and 
the Sleeper guards the inner door. 
They'll ki,ll you if you try it, and if 
you linger, the council will kill you 
tomorrow." 

"Let them!" he snarled. "I am no 
sniveling townsman! I am of the 
hills, and my father was a renegade. 
Your council had no right to judge 
me. Now / shall judge them." 

The words were spoken hotly, 
and he realized their folly. He ex- 
pected a scornful rebuke from 
Mara, but she hung onto his arm 



WALTER MILLER, JR. 

and pleaded with him. He had 
dragged her a dozen doorways from 
the house of her father. Her voice 
had lost its arrogance and became 
pleading. 

"Please, Asir! Go away. Listen! I 
will even go with you — if you want 
me. 

He laughed harshly. "Tokra's 
leavings." 

She slapped him hard across the 
mouth. "Tokra is an impotent old 
dodderer. He can scarcely move for 
arthritis. You're an idiot! I sat on 
his lap and kissed his bald pate for 
you." 

"Then why did he give you a rit- 
ual phrase?" he asked stiffly. 

"Because he likes me." 

"You lie." He stalked angrily on. 

"Very well! Go to the vaults. I'll 
tell my father, and they'll hunt you 
down before you get there." 

She released his arm and 
stopped. Asir hesitated. She meant 
it. He came back to her slowly, 
then slipped his swollen hands to 
her throat. She did not back away. 

"Why don't I just choke you and 
leave you lying here?" he hissed. 

Her face was only a shadow in 
darkness, but he could see her cool 
smirk. 

"Because you love me, Asir of 
Franic." 

He dropped his hands and grunt* 
ed a low curse. She' laughed low , 
and took his arm. 

"Come on. We'll go get the hiif- 
fen," she said. 

Why not? he thought. Take her 
hiiffen, and take her too. He could 
dump her a few miles from the vil- 
lage, then circle back to the vaults. 
She leaned against him as they 
moved back toward her father's 



IT TAKES A THIEF 

house, then skirted it and stole back 
to the field behind the row of dwell- 
ings. Phobos hung low in the west, 
its tiny disk lending only a faint 
glow to the darkness. 

He heard the hiiffen's breathing 
as they approached a hulking shad- 
ow in the gloom. Its great wings 
snaked out slowly as it sensed their 
approach, and it made a low piping 
sound. A native Martian species, it 
bore no resemblance to the beasts 
that the ancients had brought with 
them from the sky. Its back was 
covered with a thin shell like a 
beetle's, but its belly was porous and 
soft. It digested food by sitting on 
it, and absorbing it. The wings were 
bony — parchment stretched across 
a fragile frame. It Was headless, and 
lacked a centralized brain, the nerv- 
ous functions being distributed. 



THE GREAT creature made no 
protest as they climbed Up the 
broad flat back and strapped them- 
selves down with the belts that had 
been threaded through holes cut in 
the hiiffen's thin, tough shell. It's 
lungs slowly gathered a tremendous 
breath of air, causing the riders. to 
rise up as the huge air-sacs became 
distended. The girth of an inflated 
huffen was nearly four times as 
great as when deflated. When the 
air was gathered, the creature be- 
gan to shrink again as its muscles 
tightened, compressing the breath 
until a faint leakage-hiss came from 
behind. It waited, wings taut. 

The girl tugged at a ring set 
through the flesh of its flank. There 
was a blast of sound and a jeVk. Na- 
ture's experiment in jet propulsioh 
soared ahead and turned into the 



75 

wind. Its first breath exhausted, it 
gathered another arid blew itself 
ahead again. The ride was jerky. 
Each tailward belch was a rough 
lurch. They let the huffen choose 
its own heading as it gained alti- 
tude. Then Mara tugged at the 
wing-straps, and the creature 
wheeled to soar toward the dark 
hills in the distance. 

Asir sat behind her, ft sardonic 
smirk on his face, as the wind 
whipped about them. He waited 
until they had flown beyond 
screaming distance of the village. 
Then he took her shoulders lightly 
in his hands. Mistaking it for affec- 
tion, she leaned back against him 
easily and rested her dark head on 
his shoulder. He kissed her— while 
his hand felt gingerly for the knife 
at her belt. His fingers were numb, 
but he managed to clutch- it, and 
press the blade lightly against her 
throat. She gasped. With his other 
hand, he caught her hair. 

"Now guide the huffen down!" 
he ordered. 

*'Asir!" 

"Quickly!" he barked. 

"What are you going to do?" 

"Leave you here and circle back 
to the vaults." 

"No! Not out here at night!" 

He hesitated. There were slinking 
prowlers on the Cimmerian plain, 
beasts who would regard the ma- 
rooned daughter of Welkir a de- 
licious bit of good fortune, a gusta- 
tory delight of a sort they seldom 
were able to enjoy. Even above the 
moap of the wind, he could hear an 
occasional howl-cry from the 
fanged welcoming committee that 
waited for its dinner beneath them. 

"Very well," he growled relue- 



76 

tantly. "Turn toward the vaults. 
But one scream and I'll slice you." 
He took the blade from her throat 
but kept the point touching her 
back. 

"Please, Asir, no!" she pleaded. 
"Let me go on to the hills. Why do 
you want to go to the vaults? Be- 
cause of Tokra?" 

He gouged her with the point un- 
til she yelped. "Tokra be damned, 
and you with him!" he snarled. 
"Turn back." 

"Why?" 

"I'm going down to kindle the 
Blaze of the Winds." 

"You're mad\ The spirits of the 
ancients live in the vaults." 

"I am going to kindle the Blaze 
of the Winds," he insisted stub- 
bornly. "Now either turn back, or 
go down and I'll turn back alone." 



AFTER a hesitant moment, she 
tugged at a wing-rein and the 
hiiffen banked majestically. They 
flew a mile to the south of the vil- 
lage, then beyond it toward the 
cloister where the priests of Big Joe 
guarded the entrance to the vaults. 
The cloister was marked by a patch 
of faint light on the ground ahead. 

"Circle around it once," he or- 
dered. 

"You can't get in. They'll kill 
you." 

He doubted it. No .one ever tried 
to enter, except the priests who car- 
ried small animals down as sacri- 
fices to the great Sleeper. Since no 
outsider ever dared go near the 
shaft, the guards expected no' one. 
He doubted that they would be 
alert. 

The cloister was a hollow square 



WALTER MILLER, JR. 

with a small stone tower rising in 
the center of the courtyard. The 
tower contained the entrance to the 
shaft. In the dim light of Phobos, 
assisted by yellow nickers from the 
cloister windows, he peered at the 
courtyard as they circled closer. It 
seemed to be empty. 

"Land beside the tower!'* he or- 
dered. 

"Asir — please — " 

"Do it!" 

The hiiffen plunged rapidly, 
soared across the outer walls, and 
burst into the courtyard. It landed 
with a rough jolt and began squeak- 
ing plaintively. 

"Hurry!" he hissed. "Get your 
straps off and let's go." 

"I'm not going." 

A prick of the knife, point 
changed her mind. They slid quick- 
ly to the ground, and Asir kicked 
the hiiffen in the flanks. The beast 
sucked in air and burst aloft. 

Startled faces were trying to peer 
through the lighted cloister win- 
dows into the courtyard. Someone 
cried a challenge. Asir darted to the 
door of the tower and dragged it 
open. Now forced to share the dan- 
ger, the girl came with him without 
urging. They stepped into a stair- 
landing. A candle flickered from a 
wall bracket. A guard, sitting on the 
floor beneath the candle glanced up 
in complete surprise. Then he 
reached for a short barbed pike. 
Asir kicked him hard in the temple, 
then rolled his limp form outside. 
Men with torches were running 
across the courtyard. He slammed 
the heavy metal door and bolted it. 

Fists began beating on the door. 
They paused for a moment to rest, 
and Mara stared at him in fright. 



IT TAKES A THIEP 

He expected her to burst into angry 
speech, but she only leaned against 
the wall and panted- The dark 
mouth of the stairway yawned at 
them — a stone throat that led Into 
the bowels of Mars and the realm 
of the monster, Big Joe. He glanced 
at Mara thoughtfully, and felt sorry 
for her. 

"I can leave you here," he of- 
fered, "but I'll have to tie you." 

She moistened her lips, glanced 
first at the stairs, then at the door 
where the guards were raising a 
frantic howl. She shook her head. 

"I'll go with you." 

"The priests won't bother you, if 
they see that you were a prisoner." 

I'll go with you." 

He was pleased, but angry with 
himself for the pleasure. An arro- 
gant, spiteful, conniving wench, he 
told himself. She'd lied about 
Tokra. He grunted gruffly, seized 
the candle, and started down the 
stairs. When she started after him, 
he stiffened and glanced back, re- 
membering the barbed pike. 

As he had suspected, she had 
picked it up. The point was a foot 
from the small of his back. They 
stared at each other, and she wore 
her self-assured smirk. 

"Here," she said, and handed it 
casually. "You might need this." 



THEY stared at each other 
again, but it was different this 
time. Bewildered, he shook his head 
and resumed the descent toward 
the vaults. The guards were batter- 
ing at the door behind them. 

The stairwell was damp and 
cold. Blackness folded about them 
like a shroud. They moved in si- 



77 

lenee, and after five thousand steps, 
Asir stopped counting. 

Somewhere in the depths, Big 
Joe slept his restless sleep. Asir won- 
dered grimly how long it would 
take the guards to tear down the 
metal door. Somehow they had to 
get past Big Joe before the guards 
came thundering after them. There 
was a way to get around the mon- 
ster: of that he was certain. A ser- 
ies of twenty-four numbers was in- 
volved, and he had memorized 
them with a stolen bit of ritual. 
How to use them was a different 
matter. He imagined vaguely that 
one must call them out in a loud 
voice before the inner entrance. 

The girl walked beside him now, 
and he could feel her shivering. His 
eyes were quick and nervous as he 
scanned each pool of darkness, each 
nook and Cranny along the stair- 
way wall. The well was silent ex- 
cept for the mutter of their foot- 
steps, and the gloom was full of 
musty odors. The candle afforded 
little light. 

"I told you the truth about 
Tokra," she blurted suddenly. 

Asir glowered straight ahead and 
said nothing, embarrassed by his 
previous jealousy. They moved oft 
in silence. 

Suddenly she stopped. "Look," 
she hissed, pointing down ahead. 

He shielded the candle with his 
hand and peered dowhward toward 
a small square of dim light. "The 
bottom of the stairs," he muttered. 

The light seemed faiht and dif- 
fuse, with a slight greenish cast. 
Asir blew out the candle, and the 
girl quickly protested.- 

"How will we see to climb 



again 



7" 



78 

He laughed humorlessly. "What 
makes you think we will?" 

She moaned and clutched at his 
arm, but came with him as he de- 
scended slowly toward the light. 
The stairway opened into a long 
corridor whose ceiling was faintly 
luminous. White-faced and fright- 
ened, they paused on the bottom 
step and looked down the corridor. 
Mara gasped and covered her eyes. 

"Big Joe!" she whispered in awe, 

He stared through the stairwell 
door and dovyn the corridor 
through another door into a large 
room. Big Joe sat in the center of 
the room, sleeping his sleep of ages 
amid a heap of broken and white- 
ning bones. A creature of metal, 
twice the height of Asir, he had ob- 
viously been designed to kill. Tri- 
fingered hands with gleaming tal- 
ons, and a monstrous head shaped 
like a Marswolf, with long silver 
fangs. Why should a metal- creature 
have fangs, unless he had been built 
to kill? 

The behemoth slept in a crouch, 
waiting for the intruders. 

He tugged the girl through the 
stairwell door. A voice droned out 
of nowhere: "If you have come to 
plunder, go back!" 

He stiffened, looking around. 
The girl whimpered. 

"Stay here by the stairs," he told 
her, and pushed her firmly back 
through the door. 

Asir started slowly toward the 
room where Big Joe waited. Beyond 
the room he could see another door, 
and the monster's job was appar- 
ently to keep intruders back from 
the inner vaults where, according to 
the ritual chants, the Blaze of the 
Winds could be kindled. ■ 



WALTER MILLER, JR. 

Halfway along the corridor, the 
voice called out again, beginning a 
kind of sing-song chant: "Big Joe 
will kill you, Big Joe will kill you, 
Big Joe will kill you — " 

He turned slowly, searching for 
the speaker. But the voice seemed 
to come from a black disk on the 
wall. The talking-machines per- 
haps, as mentioned somewhere in 
the ritual. 

A few paces from the entrance 
to the room, the voice fell silent. 
He stopped at the door, staring in 
at the monster. Then he took a 
deep breath and began chanting 
the twenty-four numbers in a loud 
but quavering voice. Big Joe re- 
mained in his motionless crouch. 
Nothing happened. He stepped 
through the doorway. 



BIG JOE emitted a deafening 
roar, straightened with a me- 
tallic groan, and lumbered toward 
him, taloned hands extended and 
eyes blazing furiously. Asir shrieked 
and ran for his life. 

Then he saw Mara lying 
sprawled in the stairway entrance. 
She had fainted. Blocking an im- 
pulse to leap over her and flee 
alone, he stopped to lift her. 

But suddenly he realized that 
there- was no pursuit. He looked 
back. Big Joe had returned to his 
former position, and he appeared to 
be asleep again. Puzzled, Asir 
stepped back into the corridor. 

"If you have come to plunder, 
go back!" 

He moved gingerly ahead again. 

"Big Joe will kill you, Big Joe 
will kill you, Big Joe will kill — " 

He recovered the barbed nike 



IT TAKES A THIEF 

from the floor and stole into the 
zone of silence. This time he 
stopped to look around. Slowly he 
reached the pike-staff through the 
doorway. Nothing happened. He 
stepped closer and waved it around 
inside. Big Joe remained motion- 
less. 

Then he dropped the point of 
the pike to the floor. The monster 
bellowed and started to rise. Ash- 
leaped back,- scalp crawling. But 
Big Joe settled back in his crouch. 

Fighting a desire to flee, Asir 
reached the pike through the door 
and rapped it on the floor again. 
This time nothing happened. He 
glanced down. The pike's point 
rested in the center of a gray floor* 
tile, just to the left of the, entrance. 
The floor was a checkerboard pat* 
tern of gray and white. He tapped 
another gray square, and this time 
the monster started out of his 
drowse again. 

After a moment's thought, he 
began touching each tile within 
reach of the door. Most of them 
brought a response from Big Joe. 
He found four that did not. He 
knelt down before the door to peer 
at them closely. The first Was un- 
marked. The second bore a dot in 
the center. The third bore two, and 
the fourth three — in order of their 
distance from the door. 

He stood up and stepped inside 
again, standing on the fif st tile. Big 
Joe remained motionless. He 
stepped diagonally left to the sec* 
ond — straight ahead to the thirds- 
then diagonally right to the fourth. 
He stood there for a moment, trem- 
bling and staring at the Sleeper. 
He was four feet past the door! 

Having assured himself that the 



79 

monster was still asleep, he 
crouched to peer at the next tiles. 
He stared for a long time, but 
found no similar markings. Were 
the dots coincidence? 

He reached out with the pike, 
then drew it back. He was too close 
to the Sleeper to risk a mistake. He 
stood up and looked around care* 
fully, noting each detail of the room 
— and of the floor in particular. He 
counted the rows and columns of 
tiles— twenty-four each way. 

Twenty-four — and there were 
twenty-four numbers in the series 
that was somehow connected with 
safe passage through the room. He 
frowned and muttered through the 
series to himself — 0,1,2,3,3,3,2,2, 
1 . • . 

The first four numbers— 0,1,2,3. 
And the tiles— the first with no 
dots, the second with one, the third 
with two, the fourth with three. 
But the four tiles were not in a 
straight line, and there Were no 
marked ones beyond the fourth. He 
backed out of the room and studied 
them from the end of the corridor 
again. * 

Mara had come dizzily awake 
and was calling for him weakly. He 
replied reassuringly and turned to 
his task again. "First tile, then 
diagonally left, then straight, then 
diagonally right—" 

0, 1, % 3, 3. 

A hunch came. He advanced as 
far as the second tile, then reached 
as far ahead as he could and 
touched the square diagonally right 
from the fourth one. Big Joe re* 
mained motionless but began to 
speak. His scalp bristled at the 
growling voice. 

"If the intruder makes an error, 



80 

Big Joe will kill." 

Standing tense, ready to leap 
back to the corridor, he touched ' 
the square again. The motionless 
behemoth repeated the grim warn- 
ing. 

Ash* tried to reach the square 
diagonally .right from the fifth, but 
could not without stepping up to 
the third. Taking a deep breath, he 
stepped up and extended the pike 
cautiously, keeping his eyes on Big 
Joe. The pike rapped the floor. 

"// the intruder makes an error, 
Big Joe will kill." 

But the. huge figure remained in 
his place. 



STARTING from the first 
square, the path went left, 
straight, right; right, right. And 
after zero, the numbers went 1, 2, 
3, 3, 3. Apparently he had found 
the key. One meant a square to the 
southeast; two meant south; and 
three southwest. Shivering, he 
moved up to the fifth square upon 
which the monster growled his first 
warning. He looked back at the. 
door, then at Big Joe. The taloned. 
hands could grab him before he 
could dive back into the corridor. 

He hesitated. He" could either 
turn back now, or gamble his life 
on the accuracy of the tentative be- 
lief. The girl was calling to him 
again. • , 

"Come to the end of the corri- 
dor!" he replied. 

She came hurriedly, to his sur- 
prise. 

"No!" he bellowed. "Stay back 
of the entrance! Not on the tile! 
No.'" 

Slowly she withdrew the foot that 



WALTER MILLER, JR. 

hung poised over a trigger-tile. 

"You can't come in unless you 
know how," he gasped. 

She blinked at him and glanced 
nervously back over her shoulder. 
"But I hear them. They're coming 
down the stairs." 

Asir cursed softly. Now he had 
to go ahead. 

"Wait just a minute," he said. 
"Then I'll show you how to come 
through." 

He advanced to the last tile that 
he had tested and stopped. The 
next two numbers were two — for 
straight ahead. And they would 
take him within easy reach of. the 
long taloned arms of the murderous 
sentinel. He glanced around in 
fright at the crushed bones scat- 
tered across the floor. Some were 
human. Others were animal-sacri- 
fices tossed in by the priests. 

He had tested only one' two — 
back near the door. If he made a 
mistake, he would never escape; no 
need bothering with the pike. 

He stepped to the next tile and 
closed his eyes, 

"If the intruder makes an error, 
Big Joe will kill." 

He opened his eyes again and 
heaved a breath of relief. 

"Asir! They're getting closer! I 
can hear them!" 

He listened for a moment. A 
faint murmur of angry voices in 
the distance. "All right," he said 
calmly. "Step only on the tiles I 
tell you. See the gray one at the 
left of the door?" 

She pointed. "This one?" 

"Yes, step on it." 

The girl moved up and stared 
fearfully at -the monstrous sentinel. 
He guided her up toward him. 



IT TAKES A THIEF 

"Diagonally left — one ahead — 
diagonally right. Now don't be 
frightened when he speaks — " 

The girl came on until she stood 
one square behind him. Her quick 
frightened breathing blended with 
the growing sounds of shouting 
from the stairway. He glanced up 
at Big Joe, noticing for the first 
time that the steel jaws were 
stained with a red-brown crust. He 
shuddered. 

The grim chess-game continued 
a cautious step at a time, with the 
girl following one square behind 
him. What if she fainted again? 
And fell across a triggered tile? 
They passed within a foot of Big 
Joe's arm. 

Looking up, he saw the monster's 
eyes move — following them, scru- 
tinizing them as they passed. He 
froze. 

"We want no plunder," he said 
to the machine. 

The gaze was steady and un- 
winking. 

"The air is leaking away from 
the world." 

The monster remained silent. 

"Hurry!" whimpered the girl. 
Their pursuers were gaining rapid- 
ly and they had crossed only half 
the distance to the opposing door- 
way. Progress was slower now, for 
Asir needed occasionally to repeat 
through the whole series of num- 
bers, looking back to count squares 
and make certain that the next step 
was not a fatal one. 

"They won't dare to come in af- 
ter us," he said hopefully. 

"And if they do?" 

"// the intruder makes an error, 
Big Joe will kill" announced the 
machine as Asir took another step. 



81 

"Eight squares to go!" he mut- 
tered, and stopped to count again. 

"Asir! They're in the corridor!" 

Hearing the rumble of voices, he 
looked back to see blue-robed men 
spilling out of the stairway and 
milling down the corridor toward 
the room. But halfway down the 
hall, the priests paused — seeing the 
unbelievable: two intruders walk- 
ing safely past their devil-god. They 
growled excitedly among them- 
selves. Asir took another step. Again 
the machine voiced the monoto- 
nous warning. 

"7/ the intruder makes an 
error . . " 



HEARING their deity speak, 
the priests of Big Joe babbled 
wildly and withdrew a little. But 
one, more impulsive than the rest, 
began shrieking. 

"Kill the intruders! Cut them 
down with your spears!" 

Asir glanced back to see two of 
them- racing toward the room, 
lances cocked for the throw. If a 
spear struck a trigger-tile — 

"Stop!" he bellowed, facing 
around. 

The two priests paused. Wonder- 
ing if it would result in his sudden 
death, he rested a hand lightly 
against the huge steel arm of the 
robot, then leaned against it. The 
huge eyes were staring down at 
him 1 , but Big Joe did not move. 

The spearmen stood frozen, gap- 
ing at the thief's familiarity with 
the horrendous hulk. Then, slowly 
they backed away. 

Continuing his bluff, he looked 
up at Big Joe and spoke in a loud 
voice. "If they throw their spears 



82 

or try to enter, kill them," 

He turned his back on the throng 
in the hall and continued the cau- 
tious advance. Five to go, four, 
three, two-^ 

He paused to stare into the room 
beyond. Gleaming machinery — all 
silent— and great panels, covered 
with a multitude of white circles 
and dials. His heart sank. If here 
lay the magic that controlled the 
Blaze of the Great Wind, he could 
never hope to rekindle it. 

He stepped through the door- 
way, and the girl followed. Im- 
mediately the robot spoke like low 
thunder. 

"The identity of the two tech- 
nologists is recognized. Hereafter 
they may pass with impunity. Big- 
Joe is charged to ask the following: 
why do the technologists come, 
wheii it is not yet time?" 

Staring back, Asir saw that the 
robot's head had turned so that he 
was looking directly back at the 
thief and the girl. Asir also saw 
that someone had approached the 
doOr again. Not priests, but towns- 
people. 

He stared, recognizing the Chief 
Commoner, and the girl's father 
Welkir, three other Senior JCins- 
men, and — Slubil, the executioner 
who had nailed him to the post. 

"Father! Stay back." 

Welkir remained silent, glaring 
at them. He turned and whispered 
to the Chief Commoner. The Chief 
Commoner whispered to Slubil. 
The executioner nodded grimly 
and took a short-axe from his belt 
thong. He stepped through the en- 
trance, his left foot striking the 
zero-tile. He peered at Big Joe and 
saw that the monster remained mo- 



WALTER MILLER, JR. 

tionless. He grinned at the ones be- 
hind him, then snarled in Asir's di- 
rection. 

"You're sentence has been 
changed, thief." 

"Don't try to cross, Slubil!" Asir 
barked. 

Slubil spat, brandished the axe, 
and stalked forward. Big Joe came 
up like a resurrection of fury, and 
his bellow was explosive in the 
vaults. Slubil froze, then stupidly 
drew back his axe. 

Asir gasped as the talons closed. 
He turned away quickly. Slubil's 
scream was cut off abruptly by a 
ripping sound, then a series of dull 
cracks and snaps. The girl shrieked 
and closed her eyes. There were 
two distinct thuds as Big Joe tossed 
Slubil aside. 

The priests and the townspeople 
— all except Welkir — had fled from 
the corridor and up the stairway. 
Welkir was on his kne^s, his hands 
covering his face.' 

"Mara!" he moaned. "My 
daughter." 

"Go back, Father," she called. 

Dazed, the old man picked him- 
self up weakly and staggered down 
the corridor toward the stairway. 
When he passed the place of the 
first warning voice, the robot 
moyed again — arose slowly and 
turned toward Asir and Mara who 
backed quickly away, deeper into - 
the room of strange machines. Big 
Joe carrfe lumbering slowly after 
them. 

Asir looked around for a place 
to flee, but the monster stopped in 
the doorway. He spoke again, a 
mechanical drone like memorised 
ritual. 

Big Joe is charged with announc- 



IT TAKES A THIEF 

ing his function for the intelli- 
gence of the technologists. His pri- 
mary function is to prevent the en- 
trance of possibly destructive or- 
ganisms into the vaults containing 
the control equipment for the 
fusion reaction which must periodi- 
cally renew atmospheric oxygen. 
His secondary function is to direct 
the technologists to records contain- 
ing such information as they may 
need. His tertiary function is to 
carry out simple directions given by 
the technologists if such directions 
are possible to his limited design. 

Asir stared at the lumbering 
creature and realized for the first 
time that it was not alive, but only 
a machine built by the ancients to 
perform specific tasks. Despite the 
fresh redness about his hands and 
jaws, Big Joe was no more guilty of 
Slubil's death than a grinding mill 
would be if the squat sadist had 
climbed into it while the Marsoxen 
were yoked to the crushing roller. 

Perhaps the ancients had been 
unnecessarily brutal in building 
such a guard — but at least they had 
built him to look like a destroyer, 
and to give ample warning to the 
intruder. Glancing around at the 
machinery, he vaguely understood 
the reason for Big Joe. Such metals 
as these would mean riches for 
swordmakers and smiths and plun- 
derers of all kinds. 



ASIR straightened his shoulders 
and addressed the machine. 
"Teach us how to kindle the 
Blaze of the Great Wind." 

"Teaching is not within the de- 
signed functions of Big foe. I am 
charged to say: the renewal reac- 



83 

tion should not be begun before the 
Marsyear 6,000, as the- builders 
reckoned time." 

Asir frowned. The years were no 
longer numbered, but only named 
in honor of the Chief Commoners 
who ruled the villages. "How long 
until the year 6,000?" he asked. 

Big Joe clucked like an adding 
machine. "Twelve Marsyears, tech- 
nologist." 

Asir stared at the complicated 
machinery. Could they learn to op- 
erate it in twelve years? It seemed 
impossible. 

"How can we begin to leam?" 
he asked the robot. 

"This is an instruction room, 
where you may examine records. 
The control mechanisms are in- 
stalled in the deepest vault." 

Asir frowned and walked to the 
far end of the hall where another 
door opened into — another ante- 
room^ with another Big Joe! As he 
approached the second robot 
spoke: . 

"If the intruder has not acquired 
the proper knowledge, Big Oswald 
will kill." 

Thunderstruck, he leaped back 
from the entrance and swayed 
heavily against an instrument 
panel. The panel lit up and a polite 
recorded voice began reading some- 
thing about "President Snell's- role 
in the Eighth World War". He 
lurched away from the panel and 
stumbled back toward Mara who 
sat glumly on the foundation slap 
of a weighty machine. 

"What are you laughing about?" 
she muttered. 

"We're still in the first grade!" 
he groaned, envisioning a sequence 
of rooms. "We'll have to learn the 



84 

magic of the ancients before we 
pass to the next." 

"The ancients weren't so great," 
she grumbled. "Look at the mural 
on the wall." 

Asir looked, and Saw only a 
strange design of circles about a 
bright splash of yellow that might 
have been the sun, "What about 
it?" he asked. 

"My father taught me about the 
planets,"- she said. "That is sup- 
posed to be the way they go around 
the sun." 

"What's wrong with it?" 

"One planet too many," she 
said. "Everyone knows that there is 
only an asteroid belt between Mars 
and Venus. The picture shows a 
planet there." 

Asir shrugged indifferently, being 
interested only in the machinery. 
"Can't you allow them one small 
mistake?" 

"I suppose." She paused, gazing 
miserably in the direction in which 
her father had gone. "What do we 
do now?" 

Asir considered it for a long time. 
Then he spoke to Big Joe. "You 
Will come with us to the village." 

The machine was silent for a mo* 
ment, then: "There is an apparent 
contradiction between primary and 
tertiary functions. Request priority 
decision by technologist." 

Asir failed to understand. He re- 
peated his request." The robot 



WALTER MILLER, JR. 

turned slowly and stepped through 
the doorway. He waited. 

Asir grinned. "Let's go back up/ 5 
he said to the girl. 

She arose eagerly. They crossed 
the anteroom to the corridor and 
began the long climb toward the 
surface, with Big Joe lumbering 
along behind. 

"What about your banishment, 
Asir?" she asked gravely. 

"Wait and see." He envisioned 
the pandemonium that would reign 
when girl, man, and robot marched 
through the village to the council 
house, and he chuckled. "I think 
that I shall be the next Chief Com- 
moner/' he said. "And my council- 
men will all be thieves." 

"Thieves!" she gasped. "Why?" 

"Thieves who are not afraid to 
steal the knowledge of the gods-^- 
and become technologists, to kindle 
the Blaze of the Winds." 

"What is a 'technologist', Asir?" 
she asked worshipfully. 

Asir glowered at himself for 
blundering with words he did not 
understand, but could not admit 
ignorance to Mara who clung tight- 
ly to his arm. "I think," he said, 
"that a technologist is a thief who 
tells the gods what to do." 

"Kiss me, Technologist," she told 
him in a small voice. 

Big Joe clanked to a stop to wait 
for them to move on. He waited a 
long time. 



-THE J&tft)- 



Here was a test for the bravest of explorers, 
A monster that prowled a grim planet and 
hid behind phantoms. k 



THE BEAST 



By John W. Jakes 



THE FORWARD cabin of the 
little ship was unbearably hot. 
Corrigan and Wingfield sat 
stripped to the waist, their fingers 
working numbly on the keys of the 
data recorders in each wall. Be- 
yond the curving glass of the cabin 
window lay the arid noonday wil- 
derness of the tiny world, a rocky 
jumbled wasteland sweltering un- 
der an immense yellow sun. 

Corrigan sighed loudly and 
pushed back his sandy hair. "Joe, 
I quit. It's just too' damned hot." 

Wingfield, a squat dark-haired 
man with large black eyes and a 
weak, shapeless mouth, turned 
around and stared at him. "Cut it 
out^Vince," he said in a wheedling 
tone. "We've only got two more 
days to chart this place and move 
on. After all, there are six more 
hunks of stuff around this sun, and 
we've got to do them all this trip." 

Wearily, Corrigan nodded and 



turned back to the keys. They were 
filmed with a faint coating of sweat. 
If all the other six are like this, 
Corrigan thought grimly, we'll go 
nuts. Nothing but heat and yellow 
desert. No life of any kind, or at 
least none we've seen. Well, it 
would be better to get it over. He 
set his fingers down on the keys and 
began to type, wrinkling his nose at 
the fetid sweaty smell of the cabin. 
He wondered idly how long it 
would be before the walls melted. 

A few minutes later .Wingfield 
spoke to him. "Hey, Vince." 

Corrigan turned around again, 
grateful for the relief. "What is it?" 

"I just thought of something. 
Morse isn't back yet." 

Corrigan frowned. "He can take 
care of himself. Where'd he go?" 

"Out to check some of the rock 
formations up the hill." 

Corrigan gestured aimlessly. 
"Don't worry." Morse was a big 



85 




ft 6 

I* 

(* N. 
& <f 

* ft, 



THE BEAST 

man, heavy-bodied and efficient. 
Of them all, Corrigan thought— K>f 
the three of them in Galactic Map- 
ping Ship Number Eighteen — 
Morse was the most capable. 

"That was an hour and a half 
ago," Wingfield said scowling. "He 
should be back. I — I didn't think 
about it. I got so busy working that 
I didn't remember about him." 

"It's too hot for thinking," Cor- 
rigan said sourly s "Your brains 
fry." He got up from the recorder. 
"Come on, let's go have a look. 
Only don't bitch about not getting 
any work done." Deep down, Cor- 
rigan was glad for a chance to go 
outside, even if the heat was worse. 
The routine monotony of the job 
was beginning to wear on all of 
them. 

Wingfield reached into a wall 
locker and extracted one of the big- 
barreled magnesium fire rifles. "I 
think I'll take this along," he said 
as they headed for the port. "Just 
in case." 

"There isn't anything to shoot," 
Corrigan said, pulling the port 
open. "Not a living thing. Just 
rocks and desert and that sun." He 
dropped to the ground and imme- 
diately felt the blood begin to heat 
within his body. 

Fifty yards below the place where 
the ship lay settled on the side of 
the hill, the bluff dropped away 
steeply. And far down lay the deso- 
late yellow wasteland of a valley. 
That valley as yet remained unex- 
plored. 



THEY WENT around the ship, 
Corrigan in front, and started 
up the hillside. They picked their 



87 

( way among the large porous boul- 
ders, each of them the same yel- 
lowish hue of the sun. They had 
gone about five hundred yards 
when Corrigan stopped, sniffing. 
His stomach turned over inside of 
him. 

"Wingfield," he said. "Smell 
that?" ; - 

Wingfield turned his head from 
side to side. "Sweet . . ." he said 
softly. "I've smelled that stuff be- 
fore, or something like it. What is 
it?" 

Corrigan leaned up against a 
boulder and looked straight at his 
companion. "You'll think I'm 
crazy, but it smells like some kind 
of dope. Martian hashish, maybe. 
I've smelled it in plenty of dives 
back in the System." 

Wingfield nodded. "It's not ex- 
actly the same, though. There's 
something — well — " He fumbled 
for a word and then laughed sheep- 
ishly, "—different." 

Corrigan thought silently for a 
minute. He gazed up at the yellow 
ball of the sun and said, "That 
means something grows in this 
place. Something's alive, to make 
that smell." 

"I don't know," Wingfield said 
dubiously. "It might be anything. 
You can't make inferences about 
life outside our System on the basis 
• of our own reference points. Things 
can just be too different." 

"We never smelled it before!" 
Corrigan said testily. "I think we'd 
better look for Morse." He started 
up the hill. 

They reached the top of the hill 
and looked around. Corrigan went 
in one direction, Wingfield the op- 
posite way. They searched through 



88 

the fallen jumble of yellow roeks 
f&r ten minutes. Then Corrigah 
heard Wingfield calling him. 

"Hey Vinee. Come here, Quick!" 

He went sat a trot. He could See 
Wingfield's head above one of the 
boulders. Wingfield was staring at 
the ground, his eyes Wide with sick 
horror. Corrigan jumped a pile of 
small boulders and came up to him. 

"What's wrong, Joe, what^— " 
Gorrigan looked down. 

It was Morse, lying on his back, 
eyes wide open as he stared un- 
blinkingly into the heart of the yel- 
low sun. He'd been cut, slashed^ 
mutilated to a point beyond all 
comprehension. 

"His lips are moving," Corrigan 
whispered, "Look at them." 

"Maybe he's trying t© tell 116 
something." 

Corrigan knelt down, trying t6 
keep from feeling sick. He put his 
ear close to Morse's mouth and lis- 
tened. A minute later he got up and 
facid Wingfield. "He keeps mum- 
bling, I caught a couple of things. 
He said big arid black Hfiimdl and 
7 saw my wife" 

"The heat/' Wingfield muttered 
thinly. "The heat got him, He fell." 

"Don't be stupid," Corrigan 
snarled. "Something tore his belly 
open. Something alive.'" 

Morse was scrabbling in the yel- 
low dust, trying to raise himself on 
his elbows. He screamed in a final 
burst of strength. "I saw my wife! 
I saw her!" And then he fell back, 
A fine powdery cloud of yellow dust 
rose about his body. He would not 
speak nor move again. 

"Something alive killed him," 
Corrigan said again. The narcotic 
smell of the air made him sick. He 



JOHN W. JAKES 

tried to think clearly. Wingfield 
stood by, staring at the Corpse Who 
had been their friend, holding 
tightly to the stock of the mag- 
nesium rifle. 

"I guess we'd better go back to 
the ship and find something to bury 
him with," Corrigan said, thinking 
aloud. He hesitated. "No — we 
could put him in the refrigerator 
locker and take him back to the 
System for burial. I think — " 

Suddenly, Wingfield yelled out— 
incoherently. 



CORRIGAN whirled, staring to 
where his companion pointed. 
His eyes swept up the curve of the 
large boulder directly above them. 
His body went cold, even in the 
heat of the yellow sun. Wingfield 
made little whimpering noises. 

The beast crouched on top of the 
bOuldef, Watching them with huge 
bonfire eyes. It was over twelve feet 
long, built like some fantastic dark 
panther, with burnished ebony 
flanks that shone in the sunlight. A 
long barbed tail switched in the air 
behind it. Its claws caressed the 
surface Of the boulder, making tiny 
scratching sounds, and its jaws 
hung open. 

Corrigan and Wingfield stood 
frozen, watching the alien thing in. 
horror. Corrigan could see the 
blood on its claws, smell the over- 
powering narcotic odor rising from 
its skin. Slowly the muscles in its 
hide began to ripple. Corrigan 
knew it was going to spring. 

Wingfield was somewhere behind 
him with the rifle. Corrigan whis- 
pered loudly, "Shoot, Joe." 

He heard Wingfield giggle, "It's 



THE BEAST 

Tommy. Hello, Tommy. And Jane. 
What are you two doing here?" 

The beast was rising now, gather- 
ing strength to come slashing dpwn 
on them in its black sleek fury. Cor- 
rigan whirled around. The mag- 
nesium rifle lay where it had fallen 
and Wingfield was giggling and 
pointing his finger at the side of 
the boulder. "Hello Tommy boy, 
how are you?" . 

"Joe!" Corrigan grated. "Pick 
up — " He stopped. Behind him he 
heard the beast snarl. 

There was no time for Wingfield 
now. Corrigan leaped forward, 
shoving him out of the way. One 
hand scooped up the rifle even as 
he was turning. The beast leaped 
from the boulder as Corrigan raised 
the rifle. The black body was above 
him when he slapped the trigger 
bar. 

A ball of white fire whined up- 
ward and smashed into the black 
stomach. The beast squalled as 
Corrigan dived from its path. Then 
it was gone. Corrigan's shot had 
saved his own life but it hadn't 
bagged the game. 

Shaken, he turned to Wingfield 
who was nodding his head va- 
cantly. 

"Why didn't you use the rifle?" 
Corrigan said angrily. 

"I couldn't. My little boy Tommy 
was standing right there with Jane 
— plain as day." He pointed at the 
boulder. 

"You're crazy," Corrigan said. 
He felt weak and terrified from the 
experience. He wondered if he had 
killed the beast or merely wounded 
it. "We'd better get back to the 
ship," he said. Wingfield nodded 
emptily. 



89 

"I'm sure it was they," he said. 

Corrigan had his own ideas. As 
he trudged along, he thought of the 
tiny blue Martian tkriss cats who 
possessed the power of seeking into 
a human mind, lighting upon a 
thought-image and conjuring it up 
by some hypnotic process before the 
watcher's eyes. The beast was evi- 
dently a much higher variation of 
the phenomenon. 



AS THEY walked down the hill, 
/\ Corrigan noticed large sticky 
stains on the sand at regular inter- 
vals. He knelt down and sniffed. 
The narcotic stench filled his nos- 
trils. He got up and said to Wing- 
field, "I shot the thing in the stom- 
ach. It must still be alive." 

"Listen, Vince," Wingfield pro- 
tested, "I saw Tommy and Jane. 
I swear to God I did. Please be- 
lieve me! And what was it that 
Morse said? He saw his wife?" 

"I believe you," Corrigan said. 
His mind raced ahead; The wound 
trail led down the hill past the ship 
and over the edge of the bluff. 
Leaving Wingfield outside, Corri- 
gan hurried into the ship and re- 
turned with field glasses. The two 
men went to the edge of the bluff 
and Corrigan raised the glasses to 
his eyes, staring down to the yellow 
sunburnt valley. 

"There!" he exclaimed. The 
beast was moving slowly over the 
floor of the valley, its black coat 
simmering in the sun, the trail of 
narcotic life fluid leaking from the 
wound along the ground. He 
turned to Wingfield. 

"We've got to go after it. Right 
now." 



90 

"W— what?" 

"You heard nie." 

"Vince, we can't!" Wingfield's 
fate contorted in terror. "It'll kill 
us. There's no sense. Look what it 
did to Morse. His stomach — oh — " 
He coveted his face with his hands. 

"I'm going anyway," Corrigan 
said. "It's wounded. It can be 
killed. And it may come back." 

Wingfield clutched his arm. 
"You wouldn't leave me alone, 
would you?" 

. "I'm going after it," Corrigan 
said stubbornly, remembering the 
way Morse had laughed with them 
the night before. "You can do as 
you like." 

Slowly Wingfield's shoulders 
formed a defeated curve; "I'll go 
with you," he muttered* "What 
other choice have I got?" 

Corrigan said nothing. The two 
men stood on the lip of the cliff for 
a few more minutes, gazing out at 
the yellow alien desert below where 
the black dot that was the beast 
moved slowly, painfully toward the 
bluffs ringing die desert on the op- 
posite side. 

Corrigan wondered absently 
what image the beast would pick 
from his mind. Probably his wife, 
back in the System. He remembered 
her accurately. Slender, corn-col- 
ored hair, the slightly prominent 
nose, the always-smiling mouth. 

The beast was clever. It could 
keep its fiery yellow desert kingdom 
to itself, free from alien invaders 
in silver rockets. Create the image, 
confuse, and divert attention. The 
frightened victim feared for him- 
self as well as for the terribly real 
image, suddenly created and dread- 
fully concrete. "Lord!" Corrigan 



JOHN W. JAKES 

muttefed, "can any man stand 
against it?" He knew full well what 
Wingfield had gone through. And 
Morse, before he had died. 

"We'd better get started," he 
said. "And we'd better take a 
coUple of extra rifles along;" 

They started back up the hill to- 
ward the ship. The round yellow 
sun burned down on their backs, 
making the sweat run. Corrigan 
thought of the beast and wondered 
how he would feel when they 
caught up with it, watching his wife 
being Stalked. Could he remember 
the image was not real? He worn 
dered — about both himself and 
Wingfield. 

They picked up enough food 
supplies from the rocket to last 
them overnight. Wingfield strapped 
the pack onto his back. Corrigan 
took two fully loaded magnesium 
fire rifles in addition to the one 
Wingfield carried. They started 
down the steep side of the bluff, fol- 
lowing the trail of the wound in the 
hot light of mid-afternoon. 

When they reached the valley 
floor and began to trudge through 
the sand in the path the beast had 
taken, Wingfield spoke for. the first 
time. 

"Vince, why do we have to go 
after it?" 

"The,thihg killed Morse." 

"But couldn't we just get in the 
ship and jet off and do the rest of 
the mapping from the air? That 
way it couldn't come back to get us. 
We'd be safe." . 

Corrigan shook his head dogged- 
ly. There was a basic bitterness in 
his eyes Wingfield had noticed be* 
fore, deep, as though long-rooted 
and grown- over through the years. 



THE BEAST 

"I'm going on. The thing killed 
Morse. He was my friend, Joe." 

"He was mine too," Wingfield 
whined, "but I want to stay alive. 
I want to — " 

"Shut up," Corrigan said sharp- 
ly. His feet sloughed through the 
sand. 

Wingfield said something under 
his breath. 



THEY walked for two more 
hours. The sun became unbear- 
ably hot and Corrigan felt as 
though his brain was frying slowly. 
His eyes hurt and the yellow land- 
scape became shot through with 
deep flashes of crimson. Wingfield 
breathed loudly and kept falling be- 
hind. The muscles in Corrigan's 
legs ached, but he kept moving, 
holding one of the rifles in his right 
hand. The other was slung across 
his back. 

Wingfield dropped his canteen. 
"The hills aren't getting any nearer. 
My canteen's empty." 

Corrigan turned on him angrily. 
"You know I didn't bring mine. 
That water was for both of us." 

"I can't help it," Wingfield said 
angrily. "I was thirsty, Vince. I 
can't help it." They staggered on 
for a few more minutes, finally 
coming to the top of a sloping rise. 

They stood there panting heav- 
ily. Suddenly Wingfield cried, 
"Look, Vince, look!" 

The city lay on the desert a half 
a mile away. 

It lay white and sparkling and 
cool in the sun, white terrace on 
white terrace, utterly alien and 
strange in the middle of the burn- 



91 

ing yellow sand. The buildings tow- 
ered up and up, their white marble 
walls covered with cool green vines. 
Fountains played with flashes of 
crystal and blue on the terraces. 
The city stood entirely deserted. 

"Look at • those fountains!" 
Wingfield shouted. "There's your 
water for you!" he began to run. 

Corrigan followed him, vaguely 
troubled. There was something 
about the city that he did not like, 
something that gave him a strange 
feeling of evil when he thought 
about it. But he did not stop run- 
ning. The water was inviting and 
he could almost hear its musical 
splashing as they reached the first 
of the buildings. 

The trail of thejaeast vanished at 
the edge of the city. Corrigan hard- 
ly noticed it. The streets through 
which they walked were shadowed 
and cool. They moved slowly now, 
savoring the blue coolness of those 
shadows, shrinking from the occa- 
sional patches of sunlight cutting 
down between the terraces. The 
city was refreshing, a dream-like 
haven in its quietness. 

"It's wonderful!" Wingfield 
breathed. "So still and peaceful. I 
want to find one of those foun- 
tains." 

They rounded a corner into an 
open court. White marble terraces 
faced a large circular pool of deep 
blue water with an ornate fountain 
in its center. Wingfield staggered 
forward, dropping his pack on the 
ground, leaving the rifle with it and 
rushing forward. He fell on his 
stomach, his mouth close to the 
pool's edge. 

Corrigan, a few feet behind him, 
heard him cry out. 



92 

THE BEAST rose from the cen- 
ter of the pool, cleaving thi 
water cleanly, not making a single 
ripple in the calm liquid surface. 
Its eyes glared balefully and the 
black tail twitched. Wingfield stag' 
gered back, grabbing up his rifle as 
the beast advanced slowly, making 
snuffling sounds. 

Suddenly Cofrigan knew what 
was wrong. The city. The city was 
the Martian ruins at Red Sands, 
back in the System. He had visited 
the place as a boy. It was one of 
thousands of memories in his brain 
and the beast had chosen it . . . my 
God, Corrigan thought, the selec- 
tivity and the power. . . . 

"There's Tommy!" Wingfield 
Shouted. Corrigan jammed the rifle 
butt against his hip but he was 
powerless to slap the trigger bar. 
The beast stood at the edge of the 
pool now, snarling. 

"Get back!" CoflriganY words 
were a moan. 

"I can't shoot!" Wingfield 
screamed. "Tommy's right in front 
of him!" 

"Not Tommy," Corrigan sobbed. 
"Anne! Anne!" 

Wingfield's body blocked his 
view of the beast. Corrigan ran a 
few steps to the right, shouting 
Warnings to his companion. But 
Wingfield was making motions in 
the air as if he were struggling with 
an invisible human being. 

Corrigan raised the gun again. 
He girded his will — strained against 
it — trying to fire. He could not. 

The beast crouched now, slaver- 
ing — sure of its power. And around 
about them, the city began to 
crumble away. The fountains dried 
up; the vines and the plants with* 



JOHN W. JAKES 

ered to nothing. Only the beast re- 
mained, crouching in the sun, its 
bonfire eyes shining. 

Corrigan wept. He was power- 
less to fire. His arms sagged. Now 
Anne stood before the beast, her 
hair the exact corn color that he 
remembered. She wore the dress she 
had been wearing on the last day 
he. had seen her, and she was smilr 
ing. ,The smile seemed suddenly in- 
sane. She stared at Corrigan and 
smiled. 

It's not my wife, Corrigan's mind 
screamed. It's not my wife standing 
there holding me powerless. If I 
fire, my slug will not tear the life 
from her body! No! No! But he 
knew it would and he could not 
fire the gun. 

An image. He thought of each 
letter of the word separately, 
thought of them and made pic- 
tures of them, big as the tallest 
buildings of Earth. He thought of 
the word in lights, billions of can- 
dle powers blinking on and off. 
Image. Image. Image. 

But it did no good. No more 
good than it would have done 
Wingfield who was on his knees 
crooning to his loved ones. 

The beast grinned hideously, and 
Corrigan knew it was well aware 
of its complete power. It crouched 
there, playing with them and it 
seemed to say to Corrigan: 

You know she's false but it does 
you no good— that knowledge. My 
power lies deeper. Your loyalty and 
love are your weaknesses now. 

Its tail lashed and it seemed to 
be deciding which to kill first. It 
chose Corrigan, possibly from the 
instinct he was the stronger of the 
two, though it apparently made lit- 



THE BEAST 



93 



tie difference. It crept toward him, 
toying with him the while — play- 
ing with him. 

And Corrigan grinned. He raised 
his gun and sent five flaming slugs 
from its muzzle to smash the slaver- 
ing maw until the great beast-skull 
was a red stub spouting blood. He 
lowered the rifle, still grinning with- 
out mirth. 

"You're a stronger man than I 
am," Wingfield said. He looked as 
though he had passed through a 
long and wasting illness. 

"No. Weaker, if anything." 

"You fired at it twice." 

"The first time it hadn't concen- 
trated on me." 

"But the second time it did." 



"When it showed me Anne, I 
was helpless." 

"But—" 

"It got cocky. It wouldn't let 
well enough alone." 

"I don't get it." 

Corrigan did not answer directly. 
He stared straight ahead through 
bleak eyes. "My father was the 
devil's own nephew. It was bad for 
me. Worse for my mother. She died 
very young." 

"Good God! You mean— " 

"I've often regretted passing up 
the chances I had to kill my 
father." 

, After a while they got back to the 
ship. They climbed in and sailed 
away with the body of Morse in 
the ice box. 



-THE END- 



A chat with the editor . . . 

Continued from page 56 

All of us here in Kingston are go- 
ing to make IF better and better as 
the days go by. We understand full 
well that thirty-five cents is not 
easily come by in these times of ever 
rising costs. So every one of our 
issues must be the best that can be 
bought or we wouldn't feel very 
happy about taking your money. 

DID IT ever occur to you how 
many different tastes are ca- 
tered to by the corner newsstand? 
It was brought home to me rather 
forcibly by the fact that IF's com- 
panion mag is a book of strange 



and mysterious true stories titled 
STRANGE. It is edited by Jim 
Quinn and has caused me to be 
thrown into contact with several 
top name writers. Fine fellows, all, 
and no mean manipulators on the 
typewriter, but their field of opera- 
tion and mine are so utterly alien 
to each other that we scarcely spoke 
the same language. 

The specialized fiction fields in- 
clude love stories, detective stories, 
sport yarns, true confessions and 
true crime, to name but a few. A 
complete list would fill a directory. 

However, you and I both know 
what all those readers are missing. 
Aren't you glad you're a science- 
fiction fan? — pwf 



GUEST EDITORIAL 

By James V. Taurasi 

Editor Fantasy Times 



NUMBERING only about 50 
members in the late 30s, or- 
ganized fandom is still small com* 
pared with the readership of stf 
magazines, but 2,000 experts on 
science fiction are a great help to 
the editors and publishers who want 
to know what their 80,000 more or 
less readers want. And that is just 
what fandom is ; a core of experts, 
who make a hobby of reading, col- 
lecting and commenting on science- 
fiction. 

Do they render the stf editor any 
Worthwhile service? You bet they 
do. Besides telling the editors their 
wants and dislikes they mirror the 
likes and dislikes of the readership,' 
They also keep a weather eye open 
for any author who might slip in a 
plagiarized story; An example of 
this is the case of art Australian 
science fiction magazine, where a 
few authors were copying American 
stf stories and selling them as their 
own. A science fiction fan armed 
with a collection of USA science- 
fiction magazines showed the Aus- 
tralian editor what was going on, 
and of course the authors were 
given the gate. In years past, right 
here in the USA, it was the work of 
stf fans that obtained payment for 



stories for the authors when the 
publisher of certain stf magazines 
was slow in doing so. Also this 
group, through their amateur pub- 
lications, keep the editors and 
publishers informed of what goes on 
in the field. Many editors and pub- 
lishers would never know their 
magazines were being reprinted 
legally of Otherwise, outside the 
United States if it was not for the 
fan collector. 



FANDOM is not organized Un- 
der one unit, as many readers 
are led to believe, because the mem- 
bers of science fiction fandom, just 
can't agree. They — like the general 
readership — have different ideas of 
What a story should be, and their 
likes and dislikes differ a great deal. 
No one group of fandom will give 
the editor any idea of what to print, 
but fandom as a whole will give the 
editor a good idea of what the read- 
ers want. And unlike the regular 
readers, this group will not just stop 
reading the magazine if they are 
displeased. Fandom will howl 
plenty and make sure the editors 
know about it. A wise stf editor will 
keep himself informed on what f an- 



94 



JAMES V. TAURASI 

dom thinks of his magazine, and 
thus know what his readers think. 

And, let's not forget the adver- 
tising angle in connection with stf 
fandom. Free advertising is given to 
the professional magazines amount- 
ing to thousands of dollars by the 
activities of stf fandom. Each year, 
for example, the fans hold a world 
stf convention. Usually this brings 
about newspaper, radio, television 
and magazine reports. Who gains 
by these reports? The professional 
magazines of course. Sure, some 
editors will state that they were 
the ones who steered the reporters 
to the conventions to get those 
writeups. Right they are, but try 
and get those writeups without the 
convention! Also most editors are 
cooperative in aiding the conven- 
tions with donations of illustrations, 
manuscripts and covers. These do- 
nations are the main means of pay- 
ing . off a convention. But the 
auction of these items gives that 
professional magazine more pub- 
licity than that money could ever 
obtain. 



ACTUALLY the cooperation 
between fandom and the pro- 
fessionals has always been very high 
and gets stronger every year. Both 
the fans and the editors realize that 
neither can get along without the 
other. Fandom is only there because 
there are science fiction magazines 
and books. Without them, fandom 
would soon die out. This almost 
happened in Australia when a ban 
was put on all stf magazines coming 
in from the USA. A relaxing of this 
ban, plus the birth of an Australian 
stf magazine, saved fandom there 



95 

from an untimely death. The same 
thing would happen in the United 
States and England if all profes- 
sional magazines should fold. While 
on the other hand if all stf fandom 
should quit, the profession maga- 
zines would in a short time lose all 
their sparkle and pep and become 
as any other pulp magazine. This 
zombie-like existence would cause 
many to lose much of their general 
readers and thus fold. 



LIKE any other group, fandom 
has its own quota of crack-pots 
and drive not only the rest of fan- 
dom, but the professional editors to 
the nearest bar. But fandom has 
a way to clean its own house and 
these crack -pots either change their 
tunes or drop out. Fandom also has 
a way to clean up the professional 
field when the editor gets out of line 
and forgets that he is supposed to 
edit a science fiction magazine. Cer- 
tain editors have found out what it 
is to have a large group of fans on 
their necks. The pressure that fan- 
dom can bring about is enormous. 
With their 200 plus amateur maga- 
zines and thousands of letters, they 
can make and have made many an 
editor cry "uncle" and wish he had 
never gotten off the straight and 
narrow path of science fiction. 

All in all, we have a unique situa- 
tion found in no other field of 
literature. A situation that will lift 
our brand of literature to heights 
never even dreamed about in other 
fields. A situation where both the 
editors and readers gain. A situa- 
tion that could never be applied to 
any other field. Fandom — the 
watch-dog of science fiction. 



"You must kill Koski," the leader said. 
"But I'll be dead before I get there," Buck- 
master replied. "What's that got to do with 
it?" the leader wanted to know. 



Infinity's Child 



By Charles V. DeVet 



THE SENSE of taste was always 
first to go. For a week Buckmas- 
ter had ignored the fact that every- 
thing he ate tasted like flavorless 
gruel. He tried to make himself be- 
lieve that it was some minor dis- 
order of his glandular system. But 



the eighth- day his second sense — 
that of feeling — left him and he 
staggered to his telephone in blind 
panic. There was no doubt now but 
that he had the dread Plague. He 
was glad he had taken the precau- 
tion of isolating himself from his 




97 



98 

family. He knew there was no hope 
for him now. 

They sent the black wagon for 
him. 

In the hospital he found himself 
herded with several hundred others 
into a ward designed to hold less 
than a hundred. The beds were 
crowded together and he could 
have reached to either side of him 
and touched another ravaged vic- 
tim of the Plague. 

Next to go would be his sense of 
sight. Hope was a dead thing within 
him. Even to think of hoping made 
him realize how futile it would be. 
He screamed when the walls of 
darkness began to close in around 
him. It was the middle of the after- 
noon and a shaft of sunlight fell 
across the grimy blankets on his 
bed. The sunlight paled, then dark- 
ened .and was 'gone. He screamed 
again. And again. 

He heard them move him to the 
death ward then, but he could not 
even feel their hands upon him. 

Three days later his tongue re- 
fused to form words. He fought a 
nameless terror as he strove with 
all the power of his will to speak. If 
he could say only one word, he felt, 
the encroaching disease would have 
to retreat and he would be safe. But 
the one word would not come. 

Four horrible days later the 
sounds around him — the screams 
and the muttering — became fainter, 
and he faced the beginning of the 
end. 

At last it was all over. He knew 
he was still alive because he* 
thought. But that was all. He could 
not see, hear, speak, feel, or taste. 
Nothing was left except thought; 
stark, terrible, usaless thought! 



CHARLES DeVET 

Strangely the awful horror faded 
then and his mind experienced a 
grateful release. At first he sus* 
pected the outle,t of his emotions 
had somehow become atrophied as 
had his senses, and that he was 
peaceful only because his real feel- 
ings could not break through the 
*numbness. 

However, some subtle compulsion 
within him — some power strug- 
gling in its birth-throes — was be- 
ginning to breed its own energy and 
he sensed that it was the strength of 
that compulsion that had subdued 
the terror. 

He was at peace now, as he had 
never been at peace before. For a 
time, he did not question — was en- 
tirely content to lie there and savor 
the wonderful feeling. He had lost 
even the definition of fear. No ter- 
ror now from the slow closing of 
the five doors; no regrets; no fore- 
bodings. Only a vast happiness as 
he seemingly viewed life, suffering, 
and death as a man standing on a 
cliff looking out over a great misty 
valley. 

But soon came *wonder and 
analysis. He looked backward and 
thought: It was a world, but not 
my world. These are memories but 
not my memories. I lived them and 
knew them- — yet none of them be- 
longs to me. Strange — this soul- 
fiber with which 1 think — the last 
function left to me — is not a soul- 
fiber I have ever known before* 

And he knew. 

/ have never existed before this 
moment. 

He could not prove it nor explain 
it there in the dark house of his 
thinking. But he knew it was true. 

He wonder-ed if he had taken 



INFINITY'S CHILD 



99 



over the body and mind — complete 
with all the mental trappings — of 
some other being. Or whether he 
had been just now cpnceived, full- 
blown and with memories of a syn- 
thetic past perhaps implanted also 
in the minds of those with whom 
he was supposed to have come in 
contact. He did not know. He was 
only sure that, before this moment, 
he had not been. 



WtTH the realization came 
the certainty that he would 
not die. The force he felt within 
him — he was not certain whether 
it was a part of himself, or the evi- 
dence of an outside control — was 
too powerful. 

The inner spontaneity gathered 
strength until it became a striving, 
persistent vital force, a will of im- 
perious purpose. It moved him and 
he moved his tongue and spoke. "I 
will not die!" he shouted. 

Some time later he grew aware 
that his sense of hearing had re- 
turned. He heard a voice say, "He 
was in the last stages about an hour 
ago, before he spoke. I thought I'd 
better call you." 

"You did right," a second voice 
answered. "What's his name?" 

"Clifford Buckmaster." 

They're talking about me, he 
thought. Like a burst of glory, sight 
returned. He looked up and saw 
two men standing beside his bed. 
The older man wore a plain black 
suit. The younger was dressed in 
the white uniform of a doctor. 

"He can see now," the older man 
said. His was a voice Buckmaster 
disliked. 

"It looks as if he's going to re- 



cover," the doctor said. "That's 
never happened before. Do you 
want me to leave him here with 
the dying ones?" 

"No. Wheel him into your office. 
And leave us alone there. My name 
is James Wagner. You have, of 
course, heard of me. I am the Di- 
rector of Security." 

Buckmaster still rested in his hos- 
pital bed. They had screwed up the 
back until he sat almost straight. In 
his mouth there was a slight tang 
and knew the sense of taste re- 
turned. When he was able to feel 
again he would be entirely well. 
Yes, he'd heard of Wagner before. 
He nodded. 

"And I know who you are," 
Wagner said. "You are one of the 
Underground that is trying to over- 
throw the General. That is correct, 
is it not?" 

Almost with surprise Buckmaster 
felt Wagner's words register in his 
mind. His implanted memories 
were still strange to him. But he 
recalled them quickly. 

Twenty years before, in 1979, 
the great Atomic War had ended. 
In the beginning the two giants 
faced each other across the separat- 
ing oceans. No one was certain who 
sent the first bomb across in its con- 
trolled rocket; each side blamed 
the other. 

The methods of each were ter- 
rible in their efficiency. The great 
manufacturing cities were the first 
to go. After them went the vital 
transportation centers. 

Striving mightily for an early ad- 
vantage each country forced land- 
ing armies on the enemy's shores. 
The armies invaded with their hun- 
dreds of thousands of men— and 



100 

the bombings continued. 

The colossus of the western 
hemisphere had set tip autonomous 
launching stations, so that if and 
when their major cities had all been 
bombed, their ruling bodies deci- 
mated and scattered^-even if there 
were no longer any vestiges of a 
central authority — the launching* 
would continue. 

The autonomous units had been 
a stroke of master planning, so in- 
genious that it was logical the giant 
of Eurasia had devised a similar 
plan. 



BY THE time the bombs had all 
been used, or their stations 
rendered incapable of functioning, 
the major cities were blackened, 
gittted, inoperative masses of de- 
struction. Soon the invading armies 
no longer received orders, or sup- 
plies of rations and arms. When this 
happened they knew governments 
they represented had ceased to 
exist. They were forced to live by 
the ingenuity of their commanders 
and their ability to forage. They 
could not evdn capitulate ; there was 
no one to whom they could sur- 
render, i 

Those armies with weak com- 
manders fell apart and one by one 
their men died at the hands of 
hostile natives, or hunger. 

The armies under t strong com- 
manders, like General Andrei 
Koski, of the Eurasian command, 
carved themselves a place in their 
new environment. 

Koski had landed with a force 
of seventy thousand on the east 
coast of old Mexico. His army was 
different from the other invaders 



CHARLES DeVET 

only in a secret weapon which they 
brought with them. The weapon's 
appearance was simple but it car- 
ried the potentiality of destruction 
for a world. 

Acting under previous orders 
from his government, Koski began 
moving northward, and was soon 
cutting a swath a hundred miles 
wide up the west bank of the Mis- 
sissippi. By the time he reached the 
southern border of Minnesota he 
realized from what he saw on all 
sides, that for all practical purposes 
the war was over. His only choice 
now was to find a means of. survival 
for himself and his men. 

When Koski reached Duluth he 
circled the city. Almost miracu* 
lously it had escaped the bombs. Its 
population was only a little over 
two hundred thousand, and Koski 
still retained nearly fifty thousand 
hardened fighting men. 

However, Duluth, Koski found, 
was-governed by Earl Olson, an ex* 
brigadier and a man equally as 
strong as himself. The city was for- 
tified, and garrisoned by a force of 
well trained civilians who would 
fight to their death to defend their 
city and families. And they were 
well led^by Olson. 

Koski knew he could capture the 
city if he decided to, but the price 
Would be too dear. He moved on 
along the lakeshore and took over 
the city of Superior. Here he en- 
trenched himself solidly and set up 
an efficient military government. 

By law every woman in the city 
still capable of bearing children 
was forced to. take two husbands, 
at least one of which must be a 
Ruskie, as the invaders were 
called by the natives. In this way 



INFINITY'S CHILD 

Koski insured a plentiful supply of 
children, most of whom would be 
loyal to him. 

A bonus of ten thousand dollars 
was offered to any woman from the 
outlying districts who would move 
to Superior and take two of its citi- 
zens in marriage. After the first 
hesitation, the girls and yoUng 
women and widows flocked in from 
their barren farms and hamlets. 

By the end of twenty years the 
city had grown to near one hun* 
dred fifty thousand. 

Duluth in the meantime grew to 
three hundred thousand. Earl 
Olson ruled absolutely, but wise- 
ly and well. Between the two cities 
an alert truce held through the 
years and mutually advantageous 
trade flourished. 

Koski, in his city, held all au- 
thority in his own tight grip, ad- 
ministered by his former officers 
and backed by the undeviating loy- 
alty of his soldiers. His rule was 
stern and when necessary, bloody. 
It might have been bloodier except 
for the threat of intervention by 
Olson* 



THERE ARE always men who 
fret under the hand of tyranny 
and the Underground had gradual- 
ly risen until it grew into a power- 
ful organization. Its demands were 
for a representative government 
chosen by vote of the people. This^ 
of course, Koski refused. As a con- 
sequence the Underground formed 
an active resistance, with the 
avowed purpose of killing Koski. A 
retaliatory blood bath was pre- 
vented only by the threat of inter- 
vention by Olson, who had many 



101 

friends in the Underground, espe- 
cially his brother-in-law, Lester 
Oliver. 

But right* now none of this 
seemed very important to Buckmas* 
ter. Not important enough for hirfi 
to bother answering. 

"Answer when you're spoken to!" 
Wagner roared. 

For a moment Buckmaster de- 
liberated riot replying. Just how un- 
usual was the difference he had dis- 
covered in himself? Could he be 
hurt by someone like Wagner? He 
decided to wait until later to put 
it to the test. 

"What do you want me to say?" 
he asked. 

"I'm going to lay my cards on 
the table," Wagner said. "I want 
you to come over to our side." 

Still not very interested, Buck- 
master asked, "Why should I?" ' 

"I think I can give you some very 
good reasons. In fact, unless 
you're a bigger fool than I think 
you are, I can convince you that it 
is the only wise thing to do. Because 
of your relatively smaller numbers, 
the Plague has caused havoc in 
your Underground." 

"Yes," Buckmaster answered. 
"But we will have a vaccine before 
long." He knew this was purely 
bluff. 

"Possibly." Wagner pulled his 
cheeks up but his eyes remained 
chilled and cold. He had the trick 
of smiling mirthlessly. "But even if 
I were 'to grant you that, we esti- 
mate that already nearly half of 
your organization is dead from the 
Plague. There will be more before 
you can do anything. The rest we 
can hunt down at our leisure. So 
you see, even if we let you live, 



102 



CHARLES DeVET 



you'd soon be a man without a 
party." 

"We could start all over again if 
we had to." The first signs of feel- 
ing came back with a twinge of 
pain at the tip of the little finger on 
his left hand. 

"I doubt it very much." 

"What would I be expected to 
do?" Buckmaster asked. 

"Simply this. Go back among 
your former comrades and act nor- 
mal. But let me know what they're 
planning. In time we'd get them 
anyway, but with your help, the job 
will be easier — cleaner, let us say." 

"In other words, you want me 
to act as the Judas ram?" 

"Call it what you like," Wagner's 
eyes narrowed. "Just remember that 
you've nothing to lose." 

"And after?" 

"You can name your own price. 
Within reason, of course." 

"And if I refuse?" 



WAGNER LAUGHED. It 
wasn't necessary for him to 
answer. Buckmaster had seen the 
results of Wagner's sadism in the 
past. Whatever else might be mys- 
tifying to him he knew one thing: 
The instinct of self-preservation 
was still as strong as ever. He did 
not want to take the chance that 
the extraneous will he felt within 
him would be strong enough to 
combat what Wagner would try to 
do to him. 

"Let's say I agree," he said. 
"What comes next?" 

"Can you move your limbs yet?" 
Wagner asked. 

Buckmaster flexed his fingers and 
lifted his arms. "I believe I'm 



strong enough to walk," he said. 

"By the way," Wagner inquired, 
"have you any idea why you didn't 
die?" 

Buckmaster shook his head. 

"Well, no matter. Lie back and 
relax. Now look into my eyes. Con- 
centrate on the right one." 

Buckmaster knew what was com- 
ing now. Mind contact! 

Subtly he felt the first tentative 
probe of Wagner's thought anten- 
na. One part of his brain accepted 
it passively, but another part used 
the probe as a bridge. 

Wagner's thoughts seemed un- 
guarded. Buckmaster easily read 
everything there. He had to hide 
his surprise at what he learned. 
Things that Wagner, by no process 
of logic would ever reveal to him. 
Reflections concerning the Plague. 
Remembrances of snatches of con- 
versation with the General. Wag- 
ner's relations with women. Sex oc- 
cupied many of his thoughts. The 
fear of Olson was there, in spite of 
Wagner's brave words earlier. 

Then Buckmaster read about 
himself in Wagner's mind and was 
certain something was wrong here. 
He saw that Wagner had no inten- 
tion of ever letting him live, no 
matter how useful he might be. 
There was death for himself as soon 
as that usefulness was over. 

"Damn it," Wagner cursed, "re- 
lax. Let your mind open up to me. 
Are you deliberately trying to get 
yourself back in trouble by being 
stubborn?" 

Then he knew. The contact had 
been one-way. He had read Wag- 
ner's mind because Wagner had not 
realized he could do it, and had not 
thrown up a guard. 



INFINITY'S CHILD 

Cautiously Buckmaster let frag- 
ments of careful thoughts escape. 
The moment he lowered the bar- 
riers of his mind he felt Wagner's 
power beat against him, wave upon 
wave. The sensation was frighten- 
ing. 

Wagner seemed satisfied. Buck- 
master could read very little in his 
mind now. 

"Done," Wagner said. "Now, 
one last warning. Don't try to dou- 
ble-cross me, or you'll regret the 
day you were born." 

Buckmaster's choices of action 
were very few. He doubted that he 
could make it but at least he should 
try to get to Duluth. 

At the toll bridge across the arm 
of the lake he bought a ticket. No- 
body bothered him. He breathed 
easier as he rested against the iron 
railing waiting for the gate to open ; 
then ' stopped breathing as a tall 
man — one of the Ruskies— leaned 
over beside him and said, "It won't 
Workj friend." 

Buckmaster tore up his ticket. 
Strangely, there was a sense of re- 
lief. The force — the presence with- 
in him — whatever it was, wanted 
him to return to his friends. It 
didn't compel him, it used no co- 
ercion. It merely presented good 
reasons for doing so. He could do 
more good there than by fleeing, it 
suggested. And, so strongly as al- 
most to blot opt all Other emotions, 
was the implanted desire — an ur- 
gent compelling command— to 
stay and kill Koski. 

As Buckmaster started back, the 
thought struck him : Was he mere- 
ly a pawn being moved by this inner 
power? Did he no longer have free- 



103 

dom of action? Was his will still his 
own? 



WAGNER was annoyed to 
receive the summons from 
Koski. He fumed inwardly as he 
mounted the stairs to the General's 
second floor receiving room. It was 
always humiliating to be summoned 
like a common officer when he was 
in fact the ruler of the city. 

Koski had slipped badly during 
the past few years but Wagner 
knew better than to put the old 
figurehead out of the way. He 
needed the power of that prestige 
until he had made his own position 
impregnable. 

Originally Wagner had been an 
unlettered lad from the steppes. 
When he had been made Koski's 
orderly, he had used his native cun- 
ning and slyness to ingratiate him- 
self with the old commander. Soon 
Koski had made him his personal 
adjutant. From that advantageous 
position of trust it had been rela- 
tively simple for him to use his in- 
sidious talents to secure advantages 
for himself. 

During the process of organizing 
Superior's government Wagner had 
used his influence to get his own 
adherents appointed to key posts. 
By the time Koski began to suc- 
cumb to the ravages of senility, 
Wagner held the most powerful po- 
sition in the city — that of Security 
Administrator. 

By now Koski was so far gone 
that he did not even realize he did 
not rule; that the city's functions 
had come under the control, direct 
and indirect, of Wagner. 

"You wanted to see me, Sir?" 



104 



CHARLES DeVET 



Wagner asked. 

"Yes," the General answered, the 
shaggy hairs of his eyebrows meet- 
ing in a frown. "Have the doctors 
found a remedy for the Plague yet? 
It has gone so far now that soon 
the manpower we must have for 
the Campaign will be threatened." 

"Not yet, Sir, but they are with- 
in sight of it." Wagner was always 
careful to keep the scorn he felt 
from his voice. The old dodderer 
was useful and must be pampered 
— for awhile. 

The General still clung to his 
dream of the Campaign. His ulti- 
mate plan, from the time he had 
taken over Superior, had been to 
use the city as a base from which to 
spread his rule, until he had control 
of the entire continent — in the 
name of the mother country, of 
course. He had never let himself 
see that it was but a dream. He was 
certain that he would find other 
pockets of his fellow-men who, like 
himself had set up autonomous 
governments. With their aid he still' 
hoped for an ultimate victory over 
the enemy. This would always re- 
main enemy territory to him. 

"If we don't stop the Plague be- 
fore it spreads to our own men, I'll 
be forced to use the Weapon," 
Koski growled. His great bony fea- 
tures had lost all power of expres- 
sion except their habitual scowl, but 
his voice was still deep and vibrant. 
"I'll kill every man, woman, and 
child in the country!" 

Wagner had to admire the will 
to destruction that still rode the old 
man. He may have weakened in his 
mind but he had never softened. 
And the Weapon? It was the one 
secret that Wagner had not been 



able to learn. 

"Yes, Sir," Wagner agreed, "If 
you should ever feel the need to use 
the Weapon, I ask you to remember 
that my only wish is to be of aid to 
my General." 

Koski's washed blue eyes grew 
crafty. "I fully realize that. But I 
will need no help. You may accept 
my compliments and withdraw." 

Wagner muttered a soft oath 
under his breath as he bowed 
humbly. 



"A s 



,S YOU can see, I didn't 
die," Buckmaster said. The 
two chairs in the small room were 
occupied by the men he faced. He 
sat on a steel-framed bed. 

"No." Lester Oliver was thought- 
ful. "I'm wondering why you 
didn't. Do you have any explana- 
tion?" 

"Only something that you 
wouldn't understand, unless it hap- 
pened to you," Buckmaster an- 
swered. "I couldn't explain it." 

"Try." Oliver spoke softly, but 
Buckmaster knew that behind that 
softness Oliver hid a bulldog 
tenacity. 

Carefully, patiently Buckmaster 
told about the Force, trying to 
make them sense it as he had. 

"You feel then," Cecil Cuff, the 
other man in the room, said, "that 
you're in the grip of something over 
which you have no direct control?" 

"Yes." 

"Are you certain that it is not the 
contact Wagner imposed on you?" 

"It came before Wagner was 
present," Buckmaster replied. 

Cuff turned to Oliver. "I know 
he believes what he is saying," he 



INFINITY'S CHILD 

said. "But it's obvious that his mind 
has been tampered with. If we let 
him live, we'll be taking the risk 
that the General and Wagner are 
getting at us, through him." 

"That's right," Oliver answered. 

"J think he should be killed," 
Guff said. 

Oliver was thoughtful for a l6ng 
moment. "What do you think, Clif- 
ford?" he asked gently. He always 
called Buckmaster by his first name. 

Buckmaster breathed deeply. 
"Naturally I want to live," he an- 
swered. "But from the viewpoint of 
the Underground, I suppose Cuff 
is right." 

"You say that you feel that this 
Force is a protective one," Oliver 
said. "Does it seem to you that per- 
haps we couldn't kill you — that it 
would prevent us?" 

Buckmaster searched for words 
to express his thoughts. "I feel," he 
said, "that it won't let me be killed. 
It seems that I have a mission to 
fulfill, and that it won't let me die 
■ — at least not until I accomplish 
what it desires. However, I feel also 
that it will, or can, do nothing con- 
crete to prevent my being killed. It 
will probably aid me by convincing 
you that it would be better to let 
me live." 

"Do you feel that its purpose 
might be much the same as ours, 
and that it will attempt to convince 
us of that?" Oliver asked. 

"Something like that," Buckmas* 
ter answered. "At least the urge to 
kill Koski is so strong within me 
that I know I would not hesitate if 
I had the chance, even if it meant 
my own life." 

"Would you attempt to stop us if 
we tried to kill you?" 



105 

"No." 

Oliver closed his eyes. He was si- 
lent for so long that it seemed he 
must be sleeping. But Buckmaster 
knew that Oliver's brain worked 
with lightning speed while his body 
reposed. Oliver was the most intel- 
ligent man he had ever known. He 
was head of the Underground sole^ 
ly because he was the fittest man 
for the job. 



FINALLY Oliver spoke. "We'll 
come back to it later," he said. 
"Did you learn anything that 
might help us, Clifford?" 

"I learned that the Plague is 
spread by contact — only after the 
first symptoms show themselves. I 
read that in Wagner's mind before 
he realized that I was reading his 
thoughts." 

"That will help. You say you 
made contact before you became 
en rapport with Wagner. Can you 
control what you let him leaftt 
through you?" 

"I believe I Can, but I cati*t be 
certain." 

"If yOu could be certain, we 
wouldn't have to kill you/' Oliver 
said. 

"You would be taking a chariCe," 
Buckmaster replied. 

"We can't afford to take any 
chances," Cuff said. "He—" 

"You're forgetting one things 
Cecil," Oliver interrupted. "As 
things stand right now, we're a lost 
cause. The Plague has killed many 
of our best men. The only thing 
that keeps Koski from staging a 
blood-bath is his fear of Governor 
Olson in Duluth. And pretty soon 
he won't have to fear that. We have 



106 

only* to lose another key dozen and 
Olson will have no friends here to 
aid." 

"May I offer a compromise?" 
Buckmaster asked. "As matters 
stand now, our only chance of win- 
ning freedom from Koski's savage 
rule is to kill him. And to do that 
we will have to kill Wagner first. 
Am I correct?" 

"Yes." Oliver raised his head. 
"What do you have to suggest?" 

"Let me try to kill Wagner. If I 
succeed our cause will have taken 
a big step. If he kills me first, then 
you've lost nothing more than if 
you'd killed me yourselves." 

After a barely perceptible hesita- 
tion Oliver nodded in agreement. 

For the rest of the day Buckmas- 
ter improvised a simulated course 
of action to let seep through to 
Wagner whenever he felt a probe. 
He kept his mind blank otherwise 
and was quite certain that he car- 
ried on the deception well. He 
caught nothing from Wagner in re- 
turn that was not deliberately let 
through. He suspected that his own 
control was as good. Though he 
had not had the practice at this 
that Wagner had. 

Toward evening he improvised a 
crisis. The Underground was plot- 
ting something big, he transmitted. 
He made the need for action im- 
perative and asked for a personal 
interview. At first Wagner de- 
murred. He wanted Buckmaster to 
stay on and give first hand reports. 
Buckmaster gave hints in return 
that he was suspected by the other 
members, and indicated that he 
must leave while still able to. Final- 
ly Wagner agreed. 

• "You realize the risk vou're tak- 



CHARLES DeVET 

ing, coming with me, Cecil?" Buck- 
master asked. 

"I do," CufJ said with his un- 
changeable reserve. "But you'll 
need my help." 

Buckmaster wished he himself 
could remain as cool. His own 
nerves felt like wires that had been 
drawn too tightly. 

Cuff was tall and robust, with a 
pessimistic outlook on life. . He 
seemed to sit back and watch life 
and its peoples as a spectator, will- 
ing to fight ruthlessly for what he 
believed was right, but never ex- 
pecting to discover anything fine 
enough in his fellow men to hope 
for anything better from them. He 
had touched the borders of an ex- 
istence that was mean and hard 
and dirty and he had long ago de- 
spaired of finding anything else. Yet 
there was nothing apathetic about 
his personality. Life's illusions were 
gone, but its fascination remained. 



"T DIDN'T think you trusted me 
J_ too much," Buckmaster said. 

Cuff acknowledged the statement 
by nodding his head. "I believed 
that you might be under Wagner's 
power. Wagner is a brute trying to 
break us. On this trip you're go- 
ing to make your own heaven or 
hell, and if you've got the courage 
to face it, I'll back you up." 

In the Administration Building 
the girl at the information desk 
told them, "The Director will see 
you in a moment." She led them 
into a waiting room. 

Three hard-faced men, all wear- 
ing black shirts, came in. They had 
the mark of killers about them. 

"Stand up." 



INFINITY'S CHILD 

They checked Buckmaster and 
Cuff for weapons. None was 
found. All five took the elevator to 
the sixth floor. 

Wagner was seated at his desk 
waiting for them when they walked 
Into his office. He smiled his mirth- 
less smile. "I see you brought com- 
pany," he said. "We'll get two birds 
with one stone." 

Buckmaster knew then that there 
was little use trying any further de- 
ception. Wagner knew. If he were 
able to squeeze through just a short 
ten seconds the job could still be 
done. The three bodyguards stood 
a few yards behind them. 

"I have something here that will 
interest you," Buckmaster said. 
Slowly, unhurriedly, but wasting no 
motion, he unbuttoned one flap on 
his shirt and reached a hand inside. 

He peeled back the long strip of 
adhesive tape covering the cavity 
below his ribs. He pulled out the 
small single-shot derringer con- 
cealed there. H e aimed from the 
waist and put the bullet into the 
middle of Wagner's smile. 

The smile cracked, and the crack 
became a shatter, spreading in all 
directions. Buckmaster saw the trap 
then. He had shot at a reflection of 
Wagner. It had been a cleverly ar- 
ranged mirror deception. 

Cuff turned to run through the 
door they had entered. But Buck- 
master was so certain any attempt 
to escape would be in vain that he 
did not even move. Cuff found the 
three guards blocking the doorway. 

Buckmaster watched Wagner en- 
ter from opposite the cracked mir- 
ror. There were two more of his 
bodyguards with him. 

When the guards closed in Cuff 



107 

struggled until they spun him back 
against the wall where his head 
crashed with a dull crunch. All the 
fight went out of him and he 
slumped in the arms of the men 
who held him. 

Two of the guards held Buck- 
master's arms. 

"A couple of fine birds," Wagner 
said as he stood in front of them. 

Cuff straightened with an effort 
of will and shook his head until his 
vision cleared. He leveled his glance 
at Wagner. "You're a mongrel 
cur," he said unemotionally, "lick- 
ing at the General's boots. He'll 
throw you another Scrap for this 
day's work." Both he and Buckmas- 
ter knew that he sealed his own 
fate with the words. The one thing 
Wagner could not tolerate Was 
ridicule, worse in the presence of 
his own men. 

Buckmaster caught the hard flat 
explosion in his face and pain in 
his eardrums as the gun that ap- 
peared in Wagner's hand Went off. 

As he watched Cuff slump he 
knew the man was beyond torture. 
He suspected that this was what 
Cuff had wanted. He had taken the 
easy way out. 

Buckmaster leaned his shoulders 
back and then with sudden violence 
pulled his arms free from the 
guards' grip. He slapped Wagner 
across the month with his left hand 
and brought his right fist around ifi 
a short arc that crushed the bone 
in Wagner's nose. 

He made no resistance as the 
guards grabbed him and twisted his 
arm cruelly behind his back. The 
hurt from Wagner's shattered nose 
brought a bright glisten of pain into 
his eyes. 



108 

"That was a mistake," Wagner 
said, the depth of his anger making 
his voice soft and husky, "I'm go- 
ing to make you whine like a dog." 



THE GENERAL, was suffering 
the tragedy of a strong man 
whose mind was turning senile — 
and who realized it. Only the two 
alternative objectives remained vir- 
ile; the Campaign and, that failing, 
the Weapon. The Weapon gave 
him his only solace in times of trou- 
ble. Now, going down into the base- 
ment of his house, he sought it out 
again. Letting himself through two 
thick concrete doors, which he 
opened with a key that he wore 
about his neck at all times, he en- 
tered the room that held his poten- 
tially terrible secret. 

The outer contour of the Weap- 
on was a rectangular frame of 
rough lumber. Inside was a metal 
box, and in this reposed a semi- 
glutinous mass of liquid. Nothing 
more. On the shelf above rested a 
bottle of aqua fortis. Quite simple 
substances — apart. Together they 
could spell the destruction of a 
world. 

The Dictator himself, had given 
Koski his instructions long before, 
back in the homeland. 

"General," you are being sent 
with an army, but its purpose is to 
protect your Weapon, and to bring 
it into a position of maximum effec- 
tiveness, rather than to fight. You 
fully understand, I hope, that if you 
ever have to use it, your mission will 
certainly be fatal to yourself?" 

"I understand, Sire," Koski an- 
swered. "I am thankful for the 
honor you have done me." 



CHARLES DeVET 

"Your mission is to carry the 
Weapon to a central location on 
the North American continent. I 
believe you have the force necessary 
to accomplish that." 

Koski nodded but said nothing. 

"The component ingredients of 
the Weapon I know no better than 
you yourself. It was developed at 
the Institute. Its special faculty is 
its ability to free hydrogen from the 
moisture in the air, and to start a 
chain reaction. The physicists tell 
me that it will sear most of the con- 
tinent once it starts reacting. About 
the only spot that would be spared 
are the dry regions, and maybe not 
even those. Just one thing you must 
remember — do not use it unless you 
are certain that the war is definitely 
lost. Do you understand the impor- 
tance of that command?" 

"I do," Koski answered. "But 
wouldn't it be better to use it as 
soon as possible? The lives of my 
men and myself would be a small 
price to pay for victory." 

"True, except for one big ques- 
tion," the Dictator replied. "The 
explosive is so deadly that it was 
impossible to experiment. There is 
no such thing as a little bit of it. 
Consequently we are not certain of 
its effects. We expect, and hope, 
that it will dissipate itself as it 
spreads too far from its initial ex- 
plosion point, but we cannot be cer- 
tain. It is possible that, once re- 
leased, it will devastate the entire 
world. You see now why it must be 
used only as a last resort?" 

Many times since Koski had gone 
over that conversation in his mind. 
Had the war been lost? Neither 
side had come through with func- 
tioning governments. Therefore, 



INFINITY'S CHILD 

what course should he take? Per-* 
haps the invaders even now ruled 
the homeland. Would he gain, or 
would he lose the last chance for 
ultimate victory by setting off the 
explosive? 

During the rare moments when 
his mind cleared, Koski realized the 
small chance the Campaign would 
have. At such times the Weapon 
beckoned. He knew then that the 
Campaign would never be com- 
pleted in his lifetime. Wagner, 
however, was a very good man* 
with all the ideals of his country. 
He would carry on. 

It needed only a slight variation 
in the trend of events, to tip that 
scale one way or the other. Even 
now the General held the bottle of 
aqua fortis in his hand — undecided. 
The fate of the world teetered. 

"You aren't so pretty anymore/* 
Wagner said. 

"Neither are you," Buckmaster 
answered through battered, bloody 
lips. He Wondered where he found 
the strength to keep taunting Wag- 
ner. He could feel that his face was 
a lumpy mess. One eye was closed 
and blood, running down into the 
other, kept blinding him. Every 
muscle in his body ached from the 
pounding it had taken, and he sus* 
pected that his left arm was broken. 
He sagged in his bonds. 

Wagner, he knew, was deliber- 
ately gauging the punishment. He 
meant to torture him to the verge 
of death, but he did not intend to 
let him die without further torment. 
Buckmaster wondered how much 
more he could stand. 

Long ago he had despaired of 
any help from the Force. He had 



109 

felt nothing since the torture 
started. It was evident that it 
couldn't do anything, or would not, 
to stop this orgy of sadism. And he 
knew that any subtle attempts to 
divert Wagner from his sadistic 
pleasure would be useless. 

Wagner had all the instruments 
required for refined torture here. It 
was evident that he had used them 
many times in the past. He strapped 
Buckmaster's wrists to a waist-high 
wooden rack. 

■ "You'll be pleased to know that I 
have made a thorough study of the 
human anatomy," Wagner said. 
"Therefore, when I begin cutting 
off your limbs, one joint at a time, 
,you won't have to worry. I'll see 
that you do not die — and also that 
you retain consciousness. I wouldn't 
want you to miss the exquisite deli' 
cacy with which I perform the op- 
erations. You'll be a basket case 
when I get through." 

Wagner picked up a short scalpel 
with an edge honed to a fine, razor 
sharpness. "This is a delicate little 
experiment that I find very effec- 
tive," he said. 

He lifted Buckmaster's right in- 
dex finger and cut deeply through 
the flesh' of its tip. The intense 
acuteness of the sensitive nerves 
made the agony unbearable. Wave 
after wave of shock sensations 
struck at his nerve fibers as the 
blade traced a raw red path 
through another finger-tip. 

Sickness gathered in his stomach 
and retched up into his throat to 
gag him. He sucked in great gulps 
of air until at last he could stand no 
more pain and welcome oblivion 
blanked him out. 

He returned to consciousness to 



no 



CHARLES DeVET 



find Wagner still there — waiting. 

"Tsk, tsk," Wagner chided. "So 
you're not so tough, after all? And , 
just when it was getting interest- 
mg. 

This time Buckmaster did not 
have the strength to defy him. He 
was beaten. He prayed that Wag- 
ner would tire of his pleasure be- 
fore he had to stand any more. He 
wanted to go out still a man, and 
not a broken hulk, tearful, plead- 
ing, begging for mercy. 

"I think you're ready for some- 
thing a bit more subtle," Wagner 
said. He concentrated his gaze on 
Buckmaster's eyes and slowly, cruel- 
ly built up a mental strain. The 
mind contact still held. Buckmaster 
realized that Wagner had been 
keeping this until he was too men- 
tally whipped to fight back. 

He was surprised then to feel that 
he fought off the pressure with lit- 
tle strain to himself. Still lurking 
there in his mind, was the Force, 
quiet, hardly felt, bift virile, with a 
sense of dynamic quiescence po- 
tency! Hope came where all hope 
had been dead. 

Something within him throbbed 
like electricity, and he sent a bolt of 
mental energy at Wagner's head. 

The shock of the emotional con- 
cussion brought blood bursting 
from Wagner's nostrils and eye 
sockets. A red tide poured from his 
lips. His head dropped loosely and 
Buckmaster knew that Wagner was 
dead even before he fell from his 
chair. 

Buckmaster sat astounded at the 
demonstration of power. He sat for 
a moment listening to the. inner 
voice that sent up its answers to his 
silent questions. No, it hadn't been 



able to help him before. Its power 
was not physical. No, it could not 
help him escape. From here he was 
on his own. The only satisfaction 
he received was the closer entity he 
had found between himself and the 
Force. It seemed to him now that 
it did not come from the outside. 
Rather it was an essential part of 
himself. Or, more exactly, he was a 
part of that Force. 

Buckmaster worked his wrists 
backwards in their thongs until he 
forced the leather straps over the 
bases of his hands. Thus he was 
able to bend his wrists. Slowly, 
painfully, he brought up his right 
leg until his foot rested next to his 
right hand. The left foot next. 
Once he almost lost his balance. 
But at last he stood with his feet 
straddling his hands. 

He exerted all the strength of his 
leg, arm, and trunk muscles. The * 
pain from his broken arm was a 
sickening thing but slowly the 
leather bands began to tear loose 
from the rivets that held them. A 
last mighty exertion and he was 
free. 

Wagner had a private elevator. 
Buckmaster entered and went to a 
ground floor. He walked out of the 
building through a tradesmen's en- 
trance into a dusky alley. 

Keeping his good arm in front 
of his face he staggered around the 
corner and into a drugstore and 
reached a phone booth without be- 
ing observed. He put in a call and 
crouched in the phone booth for 
the ten long minutes it took Oliver 
to come for him. 

"Two weeks aren't very long to 
get you well, Clifford," Oliver said, 
"but I'm afraid it's all the time we 



INFINITY'S CHILD 

have. I'm sorry."" 

"You did your best," Buckttiaster 
answered, "At least you've got me 
pretty well patched up." 

"The last reports Were that the 
police have drawn a ring around 
this district, and that they're clos- 
ing in." 

"Do We have any Way but?" 

"I hate to have to say this," 
Oliver said slowly. "But the rest of 
us can get out — if we don't take 
you With us." 



BUGKMASTER had expected 
this. It seemed that he had 
known from the beginning that he 
would never live to see the end of 
this adventure. 

"It's all right. Is there ahything I 
can do to help?" 

"No. They won't stop us if you 
aren't along. You're the man 
they're after. If there were any way 
I could help you by staying, I'd 
never leave. But I'd only be cap* 
tured with you, and nothing 
gained." 

"Of course I understand." Buck- 
master rested his hand for a mo* 
ment on the old leader's shoulder. 
"Don't feel badly about it, Lester. 
The men need you. You owe it to 
them to get out if you can." 

Oliver gripped his hand. "Before 
I go I want you to know how grate* 
ful we are for the help you've given 
us. Without Wagner the General 
won't be nearly as hard to handle^ 
And one other thing: I don't want 
you to hope too much, but there's 
still a chance we may be able to 
get you out. I'm trying a long shot. 
So if someone comes for you, go 
with him. In the meantime, keep 



111 

your chin up." 

They shook hands again. Buck- 
master surmised that Oliver was 
trying to give him something to 
cling to while he waited for the 
end. Then he was alone. 

Three hours later Buckmaster' 
Spotted the first of his executioners i 
One of the Ruskies that walked 
with studied unconcern across the 
street, { 

Almost at the same time he heard > 
a rap on the rear door of the apart- 
ment. He drew the gun Oliver had 
left with him and walked slowly to 
the door. "Who is it?" 

"Oliver sent me for you," the 
voice on the other side of the door * 
answered. 

"Come in with your hands 
up." Buckmaster flattened himself 
against a side wall and shoved his 
gun into the ribs of a tall young 
man. 

"Who are you?" 

"My name is August Gamoll," 
the man said. Somehow the name 
Was familiar. He should recognize 
it, Buckmaster thought. Abruptly 
he did. 

"What are you trying to do?" 
Buckmaster asked harshly. "Makei 
a small-time hero of yourself with 
this grandstand play?" 

"Not at all," Gamoll answered, 
"I'm the long shot Oliver men- 
tioned." 

"You're lying." 

"Then how would I know what 
Oliver said?" 

"It may be a lucky guess. Why 
should I trust you?" 

"Mainly because you have no 
choice. What have you got to 
lose?" He was a cool character. 

Buckmaster shrugged. He hated 



112 

this playing it blind, but the fellow 
was right. "O.K.," he said. "You 
might as well take your hands 
down. Let's go." 

They went down the stairs. At 
the rear exit Gamoll looked out. He 
wore no hat. The wind from the 
alley fluffed the hair on the side 
of his head. 

"All clear," Gamoll said. "Make 
a dash for it. When you get in the 
carriage lie low. Now!" 

The die was cast, Buckmaster de- 
cided. He'd play it to the hilt now, 
all or nothing. He sprinted across 
the dirt of the alley and jerked 
open a door of the carriage. He 
threw himself inside and hugged 
the floor. 

Soon the carriage began to roll. 
When they had travelled about a 
half block it stopped. Buckmaster 
drew in his breath. This was the 
critical point. If Gamollcould bluff 
his way through now the rest would 
be comparatively easy. 

"Give me an escort, Captain," 
he heard Gamoll say. "I don't want 
to get tied up here. I understand 
there's going to be some shooting 
soon." 

"That's right, sir," a crisp mili- 
tary voice answered. "It's best that 
you get out fast. I'll send one of my 
men with you." 

The carriage started forward 
again. A half -hour later it stopped 
once more. 

"You may get up now," Gamoll 
said. "We're going inside. Stay close 
to me." 



BUCKMASTER was not sur- 
prised when he alighted and 
found himself near a side door to 



CHARLES DeVET 

the General's private residence. 

"I don't get all this,"- Buckmaster 
said. "You've had me here for six 
days now, and I've only seen you 
twice. Why should the General's 
son be hiding me?" 

"Quite simple. I don't like his 
methods, or his government, any 
more than you do. Oliver knew 
that when he sent his message to 
me asking for help." 

"Do you mean to say that you'd 
help us kill your own father?" 

"As to that," Gamoll said, "if 
you'll notice, my hair and eyes are 
brown. 

"So?" 

"Koski's eyes and my mother's 
are blue. You probably know that 
it is genetically impossible for two- 
blue-eyed people to have a brown- 
eyed son." 

"Then you're not his son?" Buck- 
master was silent for a minute. 
"That's why you took the name of 
your mother's other husband," he 
mused. 

"If you remember, when the law 
was passed that each woman must 
have two husbands, the General set 
the example by marrying a woman 
who already had a husband. He 
knows that I am not his son biologi- 
cally, but I am legally, and I have 
full inheritance rights. He was too 
smart — as well as legally exact — to 
disown me." 

"That means you'd automatically 
become the government head if the 
General died?" 

"Yes. But you're wrong if you 
think that I am doing this from any 
selfish motive. If I succeed, I'll in- 
stitute a democratic form of gov- 
ernment at my first opportunity." 

"I'll wait until I see it," Buck- 



INFINITY'S CHILD 

master answered cynically. "But if 
it's true> are your ideals strong 
enough to help us kill him?" 

For the first time Gamoll seemed 
uncertain of himself. "Why is it 
necessary to kill him, especially 
now that Wagner is dead? We both 
know that Wagner did the actual 
ruling. And the General is an old 
man, without much longer to live. 
We'll win if we do no more than 
stand by." 

"He must die^and soon!" Buck-' 
master exclaimed* surprised at the 
vehemence of the words. So vital 
had been the command, that he 
knew what he had said was true: 
Koski must die, in the very near 
future. Though he himself was not 
certain of the need for such 
urgency. 

"I suppose I understand," 
Gamoll said, a trifle uneasily. "You 
have to act in self-defense! If you 
don't kill him, he will probably be 
able to kill many more of your men 
before he dies. But try to see his 
side. He is the representative of a 
Cause that is just — to his way of 
reasoning^ so right and so just that 
he will do anything to advance it. 
Whatever we may think of him, 
his conscience is clear. I only ask 
you this: If you can see youY way 
clear to attain your ends without 
killing him, will you let him live?" 

For another nine days Buck- 
master stayed with Gamoll. He 
had nothing to occupy his time. In 
idle curiosity he Went through the 
books in Gamoll's library. The 
young man owned many good 
books. 

Before long Buckmaster's idle 
browsing turned to an intent search. 
For the first time he began finding 



113 

clues to the mystery that rode with* 
in him. 

His first clue, he thought, was a 
passage he read in a physics book 
entitled, "The Limitations of Sci* 
ence," by Sullivan: Research has 
changed our whole conception of 
matter. The first step was the ek>- 
perimental demonstration that 
there exist little electrified bodies, 
very much smaller than a hydrogen 
atom, called electrons. Measure- 
ment was made with the result that 
the "whole" mass of the electron 
was found to be due to its electric 
charge. This was the first indica- 
tion that the material universe is 
not the substantial, objective thing 
we had always taken it to be. Mat- 
ter began to thin away into the 
completely spectral thing it has now 
become. The notion of "substance" 
had to be replaced by the notion of 
"behavior" . 

He passed readily from physics to 
the more fertile field of philosophy 
with the groping statement of Vol- 
taire: / have seen that which is 
called matter, both as the star Sir- 
ius, and as the smallest atom which 
can be perceived with the micro*- 
scope; and I do not know What this 
matter is. 

He pursued this quest readily 
with the philosopher Schopenhauer 
and passed almost ' imperceptibly 
into metaphysics: I will never be- 
lieve that even the simplest chem- 
ical combination will ever admit of 
mechanical explanation; much less 
the properties of light, heat, and 
electricity. These will always re- 
quire a dynamical explanation. 

If we can ferret out the ultirnate 
nature of our own minds we shall 
perhaps have the key to the exiet- 



114 

nal world. 

Let us say, then, that repulsion 
and attraction, combination and 
decomposition, magnetism and 
electricity, gravity and crystalliza- 
tion, are Will. 

Will, then, is the essence of man. 
Now what if it is also the essence* 
of life in all its forms, and even of 
"inanimate" matter? What if Will 
is the long-sought-for, the long- 
despaired-of , "the thing-in-itself" — 
the ultimate inner reality and se- 
cret essence of all things? 

Buckmaster perceived that these 
men were catching glimpses of 
something which they called Will, 
Order, Thing, Absolute, and other 
names but which were all very 
probably the same thing — and also 
that which he sought. Eagerly he 
read on. 

His next clue came from Berg- 
son: Thought may begin with its 
object, and at last, in consistency, 
be driven, by the apparent necessi- 
ties of logic, to conceive all things 
as forms and creatures of mind. 

Quickly he passed on to Spinoza 
where he found a wealth of food 
for thought. Is the body merely an 
idea? 

Is all the mentality that is scat- 
tered over space and time, a dif- 
fused consciousness that animates 
the.voorld? 

There is but one entity, seen now 
inwardly as mind, now outwardly 
as matter, but in reality an inex- 
tricable mixture and unity of both. 

Eternal order . . . that betokens 
the very structure of existence, un- 
derlying all events and things, and 
constituting the essence of the 
world. 



CHARLES DeVET 

Substance is insubstantial, that it 
is form and not matter, that it had 
nothing to do with that mongrel 
and neuter composite of matter. 

Bruno said: All reality is one in 
substance, one in cause, one in ori- 
gin; mind and matter are one. 

Descartes' conception of a ho- 
mogeneous "substance" underlying 
all forms of matter intrigued him 
for a time, and he wrestled men- 
tally with the classic quotation, I 
think, therefore I am. 

Berkeley wrote: A "thing" is 
merely a bundle of perceptions — 
i. g., classified and interpreted sen- 
sations. 

Hegel: The Absolute, transcend- 
ing the individual limitations and 
purposes, and catching, underneath 
the universal strife, the hidden har- 
mony of all things. Reason is the 
substance of the universe. 

Leibniz: Although the whole of 
this life were said to be nothing but 
a dream, and the visible world 
nothing but a phantasm, I should 
call this dream or phantasm real 
enough, if, using reason well, we 
were never deceived by it. 



FOR A TIME Buckmaster left 
the philosophers and read 
poetry. He found germs of what he 
sought in some of them, as Goethe's, 
The force which draws the lover, 
and the force which draws the 
planets are one. 

He found it beautifully in a stan- 
za of Wordsworth's. 

Something 
Whose dwelling is the light of 

the setting suns, 
And the round ocean, and the 
living air, \ 



INFINITY'S CHILD 

And the blue sky, and the mind 
of man; — 

A motion and a spirit, all objects 
of all thought, 

And rolls through all things. 

In the main, however, he found 
in the poets that the grains of wheat 
were too few amidst the chaff and 
returned to philosophy. 

Most of these excerpts, he felt, 
were clues to the enigma of him* 
self. He knew that these great 
minds had touched on the Very 
mystery that puzzled him. Once 
again he felt on the verge of under- 
standing. Did he have all the 
pieces? Could he fit them into the 
pattern, if he but knew how? Or 
must he need to learn more? 

Suddenly he found the explana- 
tion in a book of essays by, the in- 
congruity of it struck him as ifoni- 
Cal, an anonymous writer. He read ; 

For a time, during the middle 
tiges, the theory that all the world, 
and .'even the universe, were fig- 
ments of one giant imagination, 
swayed the thinkers of the world. 
The intellect in which this imagin- 
ation centered was focused in one 
man, and one man only, in the 
whole of existence. That man was 
the one man who "thought." All 
other men> all other matter, were 
but imagined props with no actual 
existence. That man is the one who 
"thinks!" "You"--and only "you, 3 ' 
the person who is reading this — in 
the whole world. It does not matter 
what your name might be. It might 
be 

Clifford Buckmaster knew then 
the mystery of life s who he was, and 
why. He no longer concentrated, 
but his eyes read on : At first glance 



115 

it would seem thai there is a con" 
certed conspiracy to avoid acknowl- 
edging this fact. Learned men, ac- 
quiring wisdom, come to the brink 
of the great discovery, and then 
deftly skirt it, blinding themselves 
to its evidentness. However, on sec- 
ond thought the reason is obvious^ 
The theory is anarchistic ; it carries 
the seeds of its own futility. If they 
were ever to admit the truth of it, 
all reason for everything — thelt 
very discovery, their very thoughts 
— would be futile. So they refuse to 
recognize it. 

Your obvious question is, How 
can 1 tell you this? Who am I-^-the 
writer of this essay? The answer is 
quite simple. I am merely a figment 
of your imagination, as is every- 
thing else about you! 

At last he knew. His first sensa- 
tion was one of awful, empty soli- 
tude. He was one creature — alone. 
Alone in a universe! 

He was an entity living in a 
dream world. All about him were 
the figments of an imagination— 
presumably his own. And even 
knowing, he still had no control of 
events — like a dream that cannot 
be halted or changed. The people 
about him were automatons, in fact 
they possessed no actual substance. 
Even his own body was but a fig- 
men t- — but he could be hurt! He 
had experienced the most acute 
pain, and very probably he could be 
killed. 

He had, however, little tifne to 
brood on it. At that instant in his 
reflections Gamoll jerked open the 
library door and walked in. 

"The worst has happened," he 
exclaimed. "The security police 



116 

have caught Oliver." 

"What can we do?" Buckmaster 
still could not regard Gamoll, or 
Oliver and his friends, as nonenti- 
ties. 

"I hate to say this," Gamoll said, 
"but you'll have to get out. I may 
be able to help Oliver escape, but 
I'll be powerless if they learn that 
I'm connected with the Under- 
ground." 

"They probably wouldn't hesitate 
to kill you also," Buckmaster said. 

"That wouldn't be too impor- 
tant, if my dying would accomplish 
anything," Gamoll said. "But the 
Underground's only hope seems to 
be my keeping clear." 

Slowly, almost unobtrusively, a 
vision rose up before Buckmaster's 
eyes. Gamoll's features clouded, be- 
came vague, and were gone. In his 
place stood the General. In the 
General's hand was a bottle, and 
before him a wooden frame, hold- 
ing a metal box with its lid open. 
Buckmaster realized that what he 
was seeing was happening in some 
other part of the building. He could 
see cement walls in the room in 
which the General stood, Probably 
the basement, he thought. 

Within him the Force command- 
ed! He must get to the General, 
and kill him. The world was on the 
brink of disaster. And time was 
running out. 



GRADUALLY the whole com- 
posite vision vanished and he 
saw the handsome features of Gam- 
oll again. He knew what he had 
to do now. 

"I'm leaving immediately," he 
said. 



CHARLES DeVET 

Closing the library door behind 
him he walked unhesitatingly down 
a long hallway. To either side of 
him, painted on the walls, were 
murals, depicting peasants in the 
fields, harvesting grain. Idly he ob- 
served the painted figures as he 
walked, with his brain chilled and 
numbed of almost all emotion. The 
painted figures possessed as much 
reality as anything else about him, 
he thought disinterestedly. 

He walked down steps and across 
an inner courtyard, his legs moving 
stiffly, lifelessly. 

He continued up the steps on the 
far side of the courtyard, his mind 
shutting out everything around him 
except the door ahead. When he 
reached there he stopped. Here, he 
knew, he was at the crossroads. He 
could move straight ahead through 
the door, or he could walk around 
the house and enter the basement 
through the back. That was the 
longer way, but probably the safer. 
And the Force urged the second 
choice. 

A mood of black frustration 
swept over him and some perverse 
stubbornness of his human nature 
rebelled at this supine abnegation. 
He knew that he was going to die, 
and his one last defiant act would 
be to die in a way of his own choos- 
ing. He walked straight ahead. 

As he opened the door and 
stepped into a long green-carpeted 
room he found himself facing three 
guards. They held guns and the 
guns were all aimed at him. 

Even before he observed that the 
guards were firing, he felt the kill- 
ing slugs enter his body. He knew 
the bullets had reached vital organs 



INFINITY'S CHILD 

and that he was about to die. With- 
in him he felt the Force, angry and 
rebuking. 

He felt a wrench at the core of 
his body structure — and he was 
walking — - walking — endlessly — 
down a long corridor. On the walls 
to either side of him were the fig- 
ures of harvesters painted on yellow 
murals. His body was alive and 
vital. He walked on, through a 
doorway and out into a courtyard 
before he realized what had hap- 
pened. The Force had turned time 
backward! He was once more on 
his way to shoot Koski. He was 
exactly the same as he had been the 
last time but with the addition of 
his memories of having been shot. 
And the silent warning that came 
to him never to expect another sec- 
ond chance. That could not be re- 
peated. 

This time when he came to the 
fatal door there was no surge of re- 
bellion and he did not hesitate. He 
walked around the house until he 
came to the basement entrance. 
Cement steps led downward. Two 
guards were waiting for him there. 
One guard fell as Buckmaster fired, 
but he knew with a terrible cer- 
tainty that he would not be able to 
kill the other iii time to save him- 
self. 

The guard's bullet crashed into 
Buckmaster's diaphragm and his 
body jerked once but it did not 
stop its determined pacing forward. 
Buckmaster fired again but even as 
he did he felt a second bullet enter 
his body. It pierced his heart and 
he knew that he was dead. With 
dimming vision he watched the 
guard fall over on his side as his 
own bullet found its mark. 



117 

Even as Buckmaster realized that 
the bitter fever of life was over for 
him he knew that his body would 
not stop. Without any directive 
from the brain it was using the lftst 
of the suspended energy in its blood 
and muscles to walk forward, driv- 
ing with ah awful exertion. 

On he walked into the cement 
lined room. The General stood 
there, oblivious to the noise about 
him. The hair on the crown of his 
head parted violently as the bullet 
from the gun in Buckmaster's hand 
hilMts mark. 

The gun became a weight too 
heavy for Buckmaster's lifeless fing- 
ers and dropped to the floor. The 
last spark of life flickered for a brief 
moment where it had fled ih some 
inner recess of his brain and he felt 
the Force for the last time. Two 
words it spoke. "Well done," and 
he knew that at last his job was 
finished. Now he would return 
home! 



BUCKMASTER had reasoned 
well, considering his natural 
limitations. But the truth he had 
discovered Was, like most truths, 
only part of a greater truth. 

In the far reaches of infinity, be- 
yond the outermost boundaries of 
space, a thought-voice spoke. "Am 
I going to die?" it asked. 

"Not now,*' a second entity an- 
swered. "The crisis is past." 

*'Will the sickness come again?" 

"Not this particular form of ma- 
levolent psychosis," the second 
entity replied. "But perhaps you 
had better tell me all the facts you 
know so that I can advise you about 
the future." 



118 

"My project, I still believe, was 
magnificent," the sick entity began. 
"From the energy of my essence I 
materialized a world of infinitesi- 
mal creatures. I gave them time 
and space, and built a background 
of a universe for their wonderment 
and speculation. They dwelt on 
their world, lived their lives, and 
made their tiny, though admirable, 
advances as they saw their destiny. 
And then, suddenly, when all 
seemed beautiful, something went 
wrong, and I was ill unto death. 
What did I do that was not right?" 

"I believe you made your mis- 
take when you gave your creatures 
free will. 'They developed their 
malignancies, as well as their ad- 
mirabilities. When they developed 
a malignancy of such virulence that 
they were in a position to destroy 
themselves, you made yourself vul- 
nerable to death, through them. 
The shock of that devastation to 
you would have killed you. Tell me, 
we're your creatures aware that 
they were figments of your mind?" 

"Some grasped inklings of it, 
though none were certain. One, a 
Baruch Spinoza, came as close to 
the truth as it was possible, for their 
finite minds. He wrote: We are the 
flitting forms of a being greater 
than ourselves, and endless while 
we die. Our bodies are cells in the 
body of the race, our race is an inci- 
dent in the drama'of life; our minds 
are the fitful flashes of an eternal 
light. Our mind, in so far as it un- 
derstands, is an eternal mode of 
thinking, which is determined by 
another mode of thinking, and this 



CHARLES DeVET 

one again by another, an£ so on to 
infinity. That was magnificant. 
While others who caught inklings 
of the truth believed that I was an 
ultimate being, he realized that I, 
too, had an ultimate being whom I 
worshipped." 

"Also, if he had been able to per- 
ceive how close you were to death," 
the second entity said, "he would 
have realized that you were mortal, 
which no ultimate being can be." 

"How were you able to circum- 
vent the disaster that so nearly be- 
fell me?" 

"I sent a segment of my own 
mentality into your conceived 
world. I gave it a name, implanted 
a memory of a past into its mind, 
and that same memory into the 
minds of those creatures with whom 
it was supposed to have come into 
contact, in its past. Through that 
segment I was able to destroy the 
awful potentiality, as well as the 
creature who controlled it. The 
secret now rests with the dead." J 

"Is there any chance of a similar I 
recurrence?" , J 

"That chance will always exist i 
as long as you persist in allowing 
your creatures to have free will. I I 
would advise you to destroy it." 

For a time the patient was silent. 5 
"No," it said finally, "without that 
free will their existence and my en- 
tire project would be futile. I will 
let the free will remain and bear 
any consequences." \ 

"That, of course, is your own 
choosing," the other said. 

And so man kept his greatest pos- 
session. 



-THE END- 



SCIENCE BRIEFS 



By Ezra Shaw 



The Eternal Riddle 

IS THERE life on other plaffets? 
What kind of life? Does it exist- 
in any one of the 1 forms recognizable 
to us? Or does the spirit of life— if 
any — which may emanate else- 
where than on Earth breed a 
species totally unfamiliar to any- 
thing we can possibly imagine? 

Before looking for the answer to 
these questions, it is necessary to 
know certain facts ahamt the make- 
up of the planets. /First — do they 
have atmosphere? 

Atmosphere consists of a body of 
gases — an aggregation of molecules 
in a state of perpetual motion — 
surrounding a planet. The density 
of the gaseous atmosphere of the 
Earth or of any other planet de- 
creases with an increasing distance 
from the surface of the planet. Near 
the upper limit of the atmosphere, 
where the density is very low, the 
molecules will travel for a consider- 
able distance between collisions 
with other molecules. If a molecule 
in this region happens to rebound 
after a collision in an outward di- 
rection and with a speed much 
greater than the average speed, it 
may escape into outer space, pro- 
vided that it does not come into col- 
lision with any other molecule. 

For any particle, whether large 
or small, to be able to escape alto- 
gether it is necessary that its veloc- 



ity exceed a certain critical value 
— the velocity of escape. This value 
is important in considering plane- 
tary atmospheres. 



A STONE dropped from a cer- 
tain height falls to the ground 
with an accelerated velocity because 
of the attracting force of gravity. If 
the stone is projected upwards with 
a velocity equal to that at which it 
hits the ground, its velocity will 
progressively decrease. 

Now — forgetting gravitational 
attractions of other bodies in the 
atmosphere— if the stone is dropped 
towards Earth from an infinitely 
great height, it will fall with a 
gradually increasing velocity which, 
when it reaches the ground, will 
have a definite velocity value. Using 
"V" as the velocity value, "G" as 
the Value of the constant of gravita- 
tion, "M" for the mass of the Earth 
and "a" as its radius : 

V 2 equals 2GM/a 

Now, if the stone is projected up- 
wards with a force equal to the 
velocity V, it will reach an infinitely 
great distance before it comes to 
rest ; if it is projected with a velocity 
less than V, it will eventually come 
to rest and then fall back to Earth, 
because any velocity less than V 
corresponds to the velocity acquired 
in falling to the ground from a 



119 



120 

height that is finite. Thus, the stone 
can only get completely away from 
the Earth if its initial velocity is 
equal to or greater than V. This is 
why V is called the "velocity of 
escape". 

To determine the velocity neces- 
sary for any body to escape from 
the Earth, simply substitute the 
values for the constant of gravita- 
tion, and for the mass and radius of 
the Earth. In this way it can be 
found that the velocity of escape 
from the Earth is 7.1 miles a sec- 
ond. 



NOT A single molecule of the 
Earth's atmosphere can pos- 
sibly escape into outer space unless 
its velocity exceeds the escape veloc- 
ity. But whenever a molecule re- 
bounds away from the Earth with a 
speed greater than the escape veloc- 
ity, it will escape from the Earth's 
gravitation, provided that it does 
not collide with any other molecule. 
A loss of the faster moving mole- 
cules from the outer layers of the at- 
mosphere is inevitable. 

There are various mathematical 
principles concerning the velocity 
of escape of a molecule from its at- 
mosphere. The actual calculations 
were made some years ago by Sir 
James Jeans, who found that if the 
velocity of escape is four times 
the average molecular velocity, the 
atmosphere would be practically 
completely lost in 50,000 years. If 
the velocity of escape is four and a 
half times the average molecular 
velocity, the atmosphere would be 
lost in 30,000,000 years. If the 
velocity of escape is five times the 
average molecular velocity, 25 



EZRA SHAW 

thousand million years would be re- 
quired for complete loss. 

On the basis of these figures, 
then, the large planets as Jupiter, 
Saturn, Uranus and Neptune, may 
be expected to have atmosphere 
much more extensive than that of 
Earth. Venus' would be compara- 
ble to Earth's. The atmosphere of 
Mars is probably considerably thin- 
ner than that of Earth, while Mer- 
cury and the Moon would have 
little or no atmosphere. 



The Spectroscope 

ASSUMING that a planet has 
l an atmosphere, the spectro- 
scope is used to study the composi- 
tion of the planet. This instrument 
contains one or more prisms, the 
light from the planet is passed 
through the spectroscope, and 
spreads out into a band or spectrum 
showing the colors of the rainbow. 
Each point in the spectrum corre- 
sponds to the definite wave-length. 

If sunlight is being analyzed — 
the light being admitted through a 
narrow slit — the spectrum becomes 
crossed by thousands of fine dark 
lines, each of which corresponds to 
a definite wave-length and a defi- 
nite intensity. 

When an electric spark from be- 
tween two pieces of iron is passed 
through, the spectrum shows a con- 
siderable number of bright lines, 
spaced at irregular intervals and of 
different intensities. This particu- 
lar series of lines is produced by no 
other element but iron. 

In a similar way, every other ele- 
ment has its own characteristic 
spectrum. If light from a hot in- 



SCIENCE BRIEFS 



121 



candescent source which has a con- 
tinuous spectrum showing all the 
colors of the rainbow is passed 
through the vapor of iron at a lower 
temperature, the continuous spec- 
trum of the hot source will be 
crossed by a number of dark lines, 
each of which is exactly identical 
in wave-length with one of the 
bright lines in the spectrum of the 
incandescent iron vapor. Such a 
spectrum is called an absorption 
spectrum. The lines in the spectrum 
of the Sun are of this nature. The 
hot interior of the Sun would give 
a continuous spectrum, but the 
cooler outer layers absorb the radia- 
tions of various wave-lengths, thus 
producing the dark lines. 

These fine dark lines are known 
as the Fraunhofer lines— so named 
after the physicist who first inves- 
tigated them. 

Investigation of the spectrum of 
sunlight proves that iron is con- 
tained in the Sun. Similarly, the 
presence of many other elements 
are detected, as well as some fairly 
reliable conclusions as to their 
abundance. 



The Effect of Atmosphere 

ONE COMPLICATING factor, 
however, enters into the analy- 
sis of light from the Sun. Since we 
make our observations from the 
bottom of Earth's atmosphere, the 
light from the Sun has to pass 
through this atmosphere before it 
reaches us, and some of it is of 
necessity absorbed in the atmos- 
phere. Consequently, some of the 
absorption lines that are present in 
the observed spectrum of the Sun 



do not originate in the Sun, but in 
Earth's atmosphere. 

Of particular importance is the 
absorption produced by the small 
amount of ozone in the atmosphere. 
This is so strong that all of the 
light of wave-length shorter than 
0.000012 inch is completely ab- 
sorbed, and none of the light in this 
region — the ultra-violet region of 
the spectrum — is accessible to ob- 
servation. 

In analyzing the spectrum of the 
Sun, the question arises regarding 
both the absorptions that originate 
in the Sun itself and those that are 
produced by Earth's atmosphere. 
There are* two ways in which the 
absorptions of terrestrial origin can 
be identified: 

( 1 ) Compare the spectra of the 
Sun taken at different altitudes. 
The lower the altitude of the Sun, 
the longer the path that the light 
from the Sun has to travel through 
the atmosphere in order to reach 
Earth. 

(2) Compare the spectra of light 
from the east and west limbs of the 
Sun. Since the Sun rotates on its 
axis in about 27 days, the west limb 
is moving away from Earth while 
the east limb moves towards us. 
There is a slight separation between 
the corresponding absorptions in 
the light from the two regions. The 
absorptions that originate in our at- 
mosphere are not affected by the 
Sun's rotations; these coincide in 
position in the spectra of the light 
from the two opposite limbs. If, 
then, the spectra of the eastern and 
western limbs of the Sun are photo- 
graphed simultaneously or in im- 
mediate succession on the same, 
plate, the absorptions of Earth ori- 



122 

gin can be immediately picked out, 
because they consist of all the ob- 
Sorptions that coincide in position 
in the two spectra. 



THE SECOND method is more 
advantageous than the first be- 
cause it does not necessitate the 
comparison of spectra obtained at 
different altitudes and at different 
times. 

The planets are cool bodies hav- 
ing no intrinsic light of their own. 
A planet is seen only by means of 
the light from the Sun that falls 
upon it and is reflected. As the sun- 
light penetrates into the atmosphere 
of the planet, it is partially scat- ■ 
tered and partially absorbed. The 
depth to which it penetrates de- 
pends upon the nature and extent 
of the atmosphere; in some cases 
the light may not even reach to the 
surface of the planet. Since the 
light will bear some impress of its 
passage into and out of the atmos- 
phere of the planet, when it is 
analysed by the spectroscope, ab- 
sorptions that have originated in the 
atmosphere of the planet may be 
revealed which will give some clues 
to the nature of the atmosphere. An 
absorption in the atmosphere of the 
planet that does not correspond 
with any absorptions produced in 
the atmosphere of the Earth will 
be easily noted. Where, however, 
the absorptions will coincide with 
those produced by the same sub- 
stances in the Earth's atmosphere, 
care is required to decide whether 
these %rise in the atmosphere of the 
Earth, or whether they include the 
effect of absorptions originating in 
the atmosphere of the other planet. 



EZRA SHAW 

The two substances whose presence 
in the planetary atmosphere is of 
the greatest significance for the pos- 
sibility of the existence of life, are 
oxygen and' water vapor, and it is" 
these two substances whose pres- 
ence may be most difficult to estab- 
lish. 

There are two methods to dis- 
tinguish whether an absorption is 
of terrestrial origin or of planetary 
origin : 

( 1 ) Compare the spectrum of the 
planet with that of the Moon, ob* 
taining the two on the same night 
and as nearly as possible to the same 
time, and at equal altitudes. Since 
the Moon is devoid of atmosphere, 
if any absorption is present it must 
originate in that of the planet. 

(2) The second method is based 
on the displacement of the absorp- 
tion lines in the light from a moving 
source at a time when the planet is 
approaching or receding from the 
Earth most rapidly. The relative 
motion will displace the absorption 
due to the planet's atmosphere with 
respect to those due to our own at- 
mosphere, and in this way it is pos- 
sible to detect planetary absorptions 
of low intensity. This method is a 
very delicate one, and is especially 
useful for deciding whether sub- 
stances that are present in our owh 
atmosphere are also present in the 
atmosphere of the other planet. ' 



temperature — a Decisive FactOI* 

TO EVEN CONSIDER the 
possibility of life on a particular 
planet, it is necessary that we have 
some general idea of its tempera- 
ture conditions. Mercury— which 



SCIENCE BRIEFS 

has very little or no atmosphere — 
always keeps the same side toward 
the Sun. Suppose this planet has 
no heat output of its own, but that 
there is an exact balance between 
the heat that it receives from the 
Sun and that which it radiates into 
space. It would be simple to esti- 
mate the temperature of its surface 
by figuring according to Stefan's 
law — that the total radiation from a 
body is proportioned to the fourth 
power of its absolute temperature. 
Using this observed value and 
equating the energy received and 
radiated, the highest temperature 
at any point on the surface of a 
planet that always turns the same 
face to the Sun, can be found, pro- 
vided that the planet has no at- 
mosphere and that it is a body that 
completely absorbs all the radia- 
tions falling on it. The dark side of 
the planet which receives no heat 
from the Sun would be extremely 
cold. 

If the planet does not always turn 
the same side to the Sun, the effect 
of its rotation would be to lower the 
noonday temperature and to raise 
the night temperature. The faster 
the rotation, the smaller the differ- 
ence between the day and night 
temperatures. For a sufficiently fast 
rotation, there would be no differ- 
ence between day and night tem- 
peratures at any place on the 
planet; there would be, however, a 
variation of temperature with lati- 
tude, because the average rate of 
reception of heat from the Sun de- 
pends on the latitude. 



123 

planet that possess an atmosphere 
and, as on Earth, temperatures at 
any one place may differ consider- 
ably from day to day. The general 
effect of an atmosphere, t then, 
is a smoothing-out of the tem- 
perature differences between day 
and night, because there will be a 
persistent tendency for heat to be 
carried from the warmer to the 
cooler parts of the surface by warm 
air moving into colder regions and 
cold air moving into warmer re- 
gions. 

Too, the atmosphere of the 
Earth, and probably most planetary 
atmospheres, are opaque in many 
regions of the infra-red, correspond- 
ing to long wave-length radiations. 
Most of the solar heat is trans- 
mitted by the atmosphere, warming 
the surface of the planet, and much 
of this heat is radiated again as 
radiation of considerably longer 
wave-length, to which the atmos- 
phere is opaque. The temperature 
is therefore raised considerably. 
The atmosphere exerts a blanketing 
effect by preventing the escape of 
the radiations of long wave-length. 
Then the fall of temperature at 
night become less rapid. 



c 



OMPLEX meteorological ef- 
fects come into play on a 



The Nature and Use of the 
Bolometer 

A LARGE TELESCOPE in con- 
junction with a sensitive de- 
tector of radiation, is used to meas- 
ure the radiation received on the 
Earth from the planets. A bolome- 
ter or a thermocouple may be used 
for detecting and measuring the 
radiation. In the bolometer, the 



124 

radiant energy is focused on to a 
minute strip of platinum which 
forms one arm of an electrical cir- 
cuit known as a Wheatstone's 
bridge, A similar strip, shielded 
from the radiation, forms a second 
arm of# the bridge, which is bal- 
anced against the first. When the 
radiant energy falls on the first arm 
of the bridge, it is heated, its re- 
sistance is increased, the balance ©f 
the bridge is upset and a current 
flows through the galvanometer of 
the bridge. The deflection of the 
galvanometer provides a measure 
of the intensity of the radiation fall- 
ing on the bolometer. The thermo- 
couple consists of a small junction 
of two tiny .strips of different 
metals. When the junction is 
heated, a thermoelectric current, 
whose strength is proportional to 
the intensity of the radiation, flows 
through the circuit and is measured 
by a sensitive galvanometer. A 
highly sensitive thermocouple will 
detect the heat from a candle at a 
distance of three miles. 



THE THERMOCOUPLE or 
bolometer provides a measure 
of the total radiation from the 



EZRA SHAW 

planet^ as modified by absorption in 
the Earth's atmosphere. A slight 
correction must be applied to* the 
measures to allow for this effect. A 
measure of the total planetary radi- 
ation is obtained when it is applied. 
This consists in part of reflected 
sunlight and in part of the low-tem- 
perature long-wave radiation from 
the planet itself. It is the latter por- 
tion that provides information 
about the planet's temperature. It 
is necessary, therefore, to separate 
it from the portion that is merely 
reflected sunlight. The separation is 
easily effected by placing a small 
transparent vessel containing water 
in the path of the rays. The water 
transmits the portion of the radia- 
tion of relatively short wave-length 
• — the reflected sunlight portion—- 
but is* opaque to the long-wave 
planetary portion. Thus, the true 
heat radiation from the planet is 
measured. 

If atmosphere and temperature 
have a similarity to that of Earth's, 
we can safely assume that the planet 
has life similar to that here oh 
Earth. But if these factors vary in 
any great degree, then living matter 
—"if such exists — will be in, a nature 
of which we have no knowledge. 



• THE END • 



Ten miracles were arranged for the age- 
long flight. But they reckoned without 







By Stephen Marlowe 



THE SEVENTH tub shook 
gently, stimulating the hypo- 
thalamic region of Eric's brain for 
the first time in almost two cen- 
turies. After a time, his limbs trem- 
bled and his body began to shiver. 
The liquid in which he floated 
boiled off at a temperature still 
far below that which would permit 
his body to function. 

By the time all the liquid was 
gone he had uncurled and lay at 
the bottom of the tub. Now his 
heart pumped three hundred times 
a minute, generating warmth and 
activating his central nervous sys- 
tem. It took many hours for his 
heart to slow — not back to the one 
beat every two minutes it had 
known for a hundred-seventy five 
years, but to the normal rate of 
about seventy per minute. By then 



his body temperature had climbed 
from below freezing to 98° F. 

Eric lay in stupor for a week, 
while fluids flowed into the tub and 
massaged his muscles, while fatty 
tissue slowly turned into strength. 
Finally, he climbed from his tub. 

He found the locker which bore 
his name, and opened it. Six other 
lockers were open and empty, as 
were six tubs. He found that hard 
to believe. It had seemed only a 
night of deep and dreamless sleep, 
no more. But each empty tub stood 
for twenty-five years, each open 
locker meant a man had gone and 
lived his time with the new gener- 
ations of the ship, perhaps had 
sired children, had died with old 
age. _ 

Eric found his clothing on a 



125 




At intervals of twenty-five years, 
they would arise to police the ship. 



RESURRECTION SEVEN 

hook, took it down. Yesterday — he 
laughed mirthlessly when he rea- 
lized that had been almost two 
hundred years ago — Clair had told 
him something about a note. He 
found it in the breast pocket of his 
jumper, stiff and yellow. He read: 

Darling: I will be ashes in the 
void between the stars when you 
read this. That sounds silly, but it's 
the truth — unless I can give old 
Methuselah a run for his money; 
I sadden when 1 think that you will 
be gone tomorrow, the same as 
dead. But if they need ten and if 
you are one who can withstand sus- 
pension — what can we do? Know 
that my love goes with you across 
the ages, Eric. 

I just thought of something. 
You'll be the seventh of ten, with 
the last one coming out at planet- 
fall. If you live to be a real gray- 
beard, you might even see the land- 
ing on the Centaurian planet. I 
love you. Clair — 

If Clair had married, her great 
grandchildren might be aliv#»now. 
Her great great grandchildren 
would be Eric's age. Clair's prog- 
eny, not Clair — because Clair was 
dust now, a light year back in 
space — 

He found a package of cigarettes 
in his jumper, took one out and lit 
it. He must not think, of the past, 
not when it was only history now 
although he still felt very much a 
part of it. Today mattered, today 
and the new generations on the 
ship. 

It crossed his mind that they 
might regard him almost as a god, 
a man who had seen Earth, who 



127 

had slept while generations lived 
and died, who came from his im- 
possible sleep and would live with 
them now to see that everything 
was going according to plan. 

Three minutes after he started 
the mechanism, the door slid pond- 
erously into the wall. It would open 
more simply from the other side, he 
knew, but then only Eric and the 
three who still slept could turn its 
complex tumblers. For a long while 
he stood there on the threshold and 
then he watched the door slide back 
into place. 



THE CORRIDOR glowed with 
soft white light, which meant it 
was daytime on the ship. Dimly in 
the distance, Eric heard voices, chil- 
dren at play. Would they know of 
him? Would their parents know? 
Was he expected? 

Eric came closer. Through a 
doorway he could see the children, 
three of them, although they had 
not yet seen him. A chubby, freckle- 
faced boy said : 

"Let's play Lazarus. I must be 
the Captain, and you, Janie, you 
can be the crew. George, you be 
Lazarus." 

George was a big ten-year-old 
with dark hair. "Like heck I will! 
It was your idea, you be Lazarus, 
smart guy." 

Eric stepped through the door- 
way. "Hello," he said. "Can you 
take me to your folks?" 

"Who're you, Mister?" 

"Hey, I don't know him! 
Where'd he come from?" 

The girl, Janie, said, "Lookit his 
clothes. Lookit. They're different." 

The children wore loose tunics, 



128 

pastel-tinted, to their kilees. Freck- 
le-Face said: "You know what to- 
day is, doncha?" 

George frowned. "Yeah, holiday. 
We're off from school." 

"What holiday, stupid? Which 
one?" 

"I— I dunno." 

"Lazzy-day!" Janie cried. 
"That's what it is. Then he's — - 
he's—" 

"Lazarus!" Freckle-Face told 
her, and, as if on One impulse, the 
three of them bolted away from 
Eric, disappeared through another 
doorway. 

He did not follow them. He stood 
there, waiting, and before long he 
heard footsteps returning. A man 
entered the room, tall, thin, middle- 
aged. 

"You are Eric Taine," he said, 
smiling. "I'm sorry no one was 
around to greet you, but the way 
we had it figured, yOu wouldn't 
come out till later this afternoon. 
History says that's how it worked 
with the six before you, about fouf 
P.M. It's just noon now. Will you" 
follow me, please?" 

Then the mail flushed faintly. 
"Excuse me, but it isn't often we 
meet strangers. Everyone knows 
everyone else, of course. My name 
is Lindquist, Mr. Taine. Roger 
Lindquist*" 

Eric shook hands with him, stiffly, 
and he thought for a moment the 
man did not know the gesture. "Ah 
yes, handshaking," Lindquist 
laughed. "We simply show empty 
palms fiOw, you know. But then, 
you don't know. I rather imagine 
you'll have a lot to learn." 

Eric nodded, asked Lindquist if 
he might be shown about the ^hip. 



STEPHEN MARLOWE 

There was a lot he had to see, to 
check, to change if change were 
needed. 

"Relax, my friend," Lindquist 
told him. "I'd- — ah, like to suggest 
that we postpone your tour until 
you've met with our Council this 
afternoon. I'd very much like to 
suggest that." 

Eric shrugged, said: "You know 
more about this than I do, Mr. 
Lindquist. We'll wait for ' your 
. Council meeting." 



SSfTlHUS, MR. TAINE," said 
X Captain Larkin, hours later, 
"tradition has it that you become a 
king King Lazarus Seven — with 
six Lazaruses before you. The first 
one, the histories say, was a joke. 
But it's stuck ever since. The people 
like this idea of a king who comes 
to them every twenty five years-^ 
and they've dubbed him with the 
name Lazarus, well, because if he 
didn't come back from the dead, he 
came back from something a lot like 
it." 

Etlt nodded. "What happened to 
Alan Bridges?" 

"Who?" This was Lindquist. 

"Alan Bridges, the man before 
me — your Lazarus Six." 

Captain Larkin cleared his 
throat. "He's dead, Mr. Taine." 

"Dead? He'd only be in his fifties 
now — " 

"I know. Sad. It was disease, hit 
him soon after he came to us. Laza- 
rus Six had a very short reign. 
Didn't he, Mr. Lindquist?" 

"He certainly did," Lindquist 
agreed. "Let's hope that Lazarus 
Seven is here to step down for 
Elght-^and to Watch Nine come in, 



RESURRECTION SEVEN 

fifty years from now!" 

Cheers filled the room and Eric 
smiled briefly. That reminded him 
of Clair's note. Clair — 

"So," said Captain Larkin, 
"you'll be crowned tomorrow. After 
that, your people will see you, King 
Lazarus Seven on his throne. Don't 
disappoint us, Mr. Taine. Their 
tradition means a lot to them." 

"It should," Eric said. "The 
planners made it that way. With 
nothing but space outside, and the 
confining walls of the ship, they 
needed something to bind them to- 
gether." 

"Yes, -that's true. But the people, 
as you'll see, have come up with 
some of their own traditions over 
the years." Captain Larkin ran a 
hand through his graying hair. 
"Like your kinghood> for example. 
You'll see, Mr. Taine — or should it 
be Lazarus now, eh?" He laughed. 

"If you'd like," Eric said. He did 
not relish the idea particularly, but 
then, it was their show. Still, he had 
everything to check — from astroga- 
tion to ethics— and he would not 
want to be delayed by pomp and 
ceremony. Well, there was time 
enough for that. Now he felt weary 
— and that made him chuckle, be- 
cause he had just concluded a hun- 
dred-seventy five year nap. 

They took him to his quarters, 
where the six before him had lived. 
There he ate in silence, food from 
the hydroponic gardens on a lower 
level of the ship. The line of light 
under his door had turned from 
white to a soft blue. It was night on 
the ship. 

Eric showered and got into bed, 
but although he was tired he could 
not fall asleep. He had expected to 



129 

be an efficiency expert of sorts ; that 
was his job ; but they told him, mat- 
ter-of-factly, that he would be a 
king. Well, you could expect change 
in nearly two hundred years, radical 
change. And if indeed their tradi- 
tion were deep-rooted, he would 
not try to change it. The planners 
had counted on that to keep them 
going, because there could be no 
environmental challenge to goad 
them. Just an unreal past and an 
unreal Earth which Eric and their 
great-great grandparents had seen, 
and an even more unreal future 
when, someday far far off, the ship 
reached the Centaurian System. 

Softly, someone knocked at his 
door. The sound had been there for 
many moments, a gentle tapping, 
but it had not registered on his 
consciousness. Now, when it did, he 
padded across the bare floor and 
opened the door. 

A girl stepped in from the corri- 
dor, pushing him before her with 
one hand, motioning him to silence 
with the other. She closed the door 
softly behind her, soundlessly al- 
most, and turned to face him. 

She wore the knee-length tunic 
popular with this generation, and it 
covered a graceful feminine figure. 



SfiTQ LEASE," the girl said. 

MT "Please listen to me, Eric 
Taine. I may have only a few mo- 
ments — listen!" 

"Sure," he smiled. "But why all 
the mystery?" 

"Shh! Let me talk. Have you a 
weapon?" 

"Yes, I carry a pistol. I don't 
fancy I'll need it, though." 

"Well, take it with you and go 



130 

back where you came. If anyone 
tries to stop you, use your weapon* 
They have nothing like it. Then, 
wljen you get there — " Her voice 
came breathlessly, and it made Eric 
laugh. 

"Hold on, Miss. "Why should I do 
that? Don't tell me there's a plot 
and someone wants to usurp the 
new king before he's crowned? No? 
What then?" 

"Stop making fun of me, Eric 
Taine. I'm trying to save your life." 
She said it so seriously, her eyes so 
big and round, that Eric half 
wanted to believe her. But that was 
fantastic. From what could she pos* 
sibly be saving him? 

The words came out in a rush 
as the girl spoke again. "The ship 
is not on course. For twenty five 
years it has been off, heading back 
to Earth—" 

"To Earth ! That's crazy." 

"Listen, please. They killed Laza- 
rus Six. He was a scapegoat. They 
watched the old films of Earth and 
felt they had been cheated out of 
their birthright. Why should they 
live here, alone in spate? they said. 
Why should their children's chil- 
dren face the hardships of a new 
world? They didn't ask for it. It 
was thrust upon them by the plan- 
ners, by your generation. If they 
knew how to get into your room of 
tubs, they would have killed you. 
Now there is a mock ceremony, 
everything is blamed on the new 
Lazarus-, and the people feel better 
when he is killed. I know, my 
mother told me. You can ask 
her—" 

The girl was about twenty, Eric 
thought. A wild-eyed thing nowj 
who so wanted him to believe her 



STEPHEN MARLOWE 

impossible story. Her breath came 
quickly, in little gasps, and Eric 
tried to hide the smile on his face. 

"You're laughing at me! Stupid, 
stupid — please— And when you get 
back to your room of tubs, awaken 
your friends, the three who remain. 
You four can control the ship, put 
it back on course, teach the people 
— Ooo, stop laughing!" She pouted 
prettily* "All of us, We're not all 
like that. We who are not can help 
you." 

Eric chuckled softly, "You try to 
picture it," he told her. "I'm sorry, 
but everything's been sweetness and 
light, and you come in here with a 
wild notion—" 

"It isn't wild, it's the truth. Why 
don't you ask to check our course 
before they make you king?" 

He could do that, all right. But 
they'd be wondering what mad 
neurosis compelled his actions, and 
he did not Want that, not when he 
might have so much to do* 

"Check it," she pleaded. And 
when he shook his head, she told 
him, "You're acting like a child, 
you know. The records say you are 
twenty-five, and you've slept for 
seven times that, but still. All you 
have to do is check- Please—" 

The door burst in upon them^ 
and Lindquist stood there, With 
Captain Larkin and two others. 

Lindquist shook his head sadly. 
"I thought so," he said. 

Captain Larkin nodded. "A 
Cultist child. Shame, isn't it?" 

One of the other men strode for- 
ward, and the girl cowered behind 
Eric. "Don't believe them!" she 
wailed. "Lies— " 

"There are so many of them," 
Lindquist explained. "Apparently, 



RESURRECTION SEVEN 

we're in an area of high radiation 
now, Mr. Taine. So many of our 
people are deranged. I won't guess 
at the cause, except to say it's prob- 
ably outside the ship." 

The man came around Eric, tch- 
tch'd when the girl jurnped on the 
bed and stood trembling against 
the headboard. "Now, Laurie," the 
man coaxed. "Come on down, 
there's a good girl." 

Eric wanted to help her, but he 
checked the impulse. He only felt 
protective. There could be nothing 
in the girl's story. Best if they took 
her and treated her. 

"... a whole cult of them," 
Lindquist was saying. "All lacking 
something up here." He tapped his 
head. "They don't trust anyone, 
only members. Think we're doing 
all sorts of foolish things. I don't 
know, what would you call it in 
yOur day. Paranoia?" 

Eric said he didn't know, he was 
not a psychologist. He watched si- 
lently with Lindquist and Captain 
Larkin as the two other men took 
Laurie, struggling, out the door. 
She kicked, bit, and cried lustily. 
Once her dark eyes caught Eric's 
gaze, held it, and she whimpered, 
"I don't care if they kill you! I 
don't care — " 

They started down the corridor, 
after Lindquist said, "You've had 
a hard day. I think we'd better let 
you sleep." 

"She told you someone wanted to 
kill you?" Captain Larkin said, 
shaking his head slowly. "What can 
we do, Lindquist?" 

"Well, we just better hope what- 
ever's causing this sort of thing is 
left behind in space soon. Good- 
night Mr. Taine." 



131 

"Goodnight, Lazarus," said Cap- 
tain Larkin. 



ERIC recognized at once the 
great hall in which he had 
danced that last night with Clair. 
Npw Clair was gone. 

The place was crowded — prob- 
ably the ship's entire population. 
Lindquist led him through the 
crowd, and he could not tell what 
their faces showed. There were 
mumblings of "Lazarus" and 
"king" — but why did he get the 
faint suggestion of mockery? Oddly, 
what Laurie said had troubled him 
— he had had a bad night's sleep, 
and it left him irritable. Poor girl. 
He wondered how many more there 
were like her. Well, in time he could 
find out, after this nuisance of a 
coronation had become history. 

"Ah, Taine," Captain Larkin 
said as Lindquist brought him to 
the dais. "As you can see, all the 
people are ready. I hope you won't 
think the ceremony foolish. Are you 
ready?" 

Eric nodded, watched a man 
raise trumpet to lips, blow one 
clarion note. A hush fell over the 
hall. 

"I am honored to present King 
Lazarus Seven to you," Larkin pro- 
claimed in a loud clear voice. "He 
has been sent, as you know, by the 
planners." 

Hoots from the crowd. Eric 
frowned. He had thought they 
would respect the planners, the men 
whose vision had sent Man — here 
in this ship — "outward bound to the 
stars. 

Larkin's voice was honey now. 
"Don't judge our new king by those 



132 



STEPHEN MARLOWl 



who sent him. Don't — " 

Laughter, and shouts of "Hail, 
Lazarus!" The people, Eric sud- 
denly realized, were almost primi- 
tive. Larkin and Lindquist and a 
handful of others ran the ship, had 
somehow maintained the science of 
another generation. But the lack £>f 
conflict, of challenge, had sent the 
people down a rung or two on the 
ladder of civilization. Hahdpicked, 
their ancestors had been— but they 
were a common mob. 

Someone cried, "He's seen Earth. 
Ask him to tell us about Earth!" 

"Ask him \'l 

Captain Larkin smiled. "Tell 
them, Taine. Tell your new sub- 
jects. You have so little time." 

"What do you mean, so little 
time?" 

. "Tell them!" And Larkin turned 
away, laughing. 

They were primitive, these peo- 
ple, and as the girl Laurie had said, 
they needed a scapegoat. They 
didn't like it here on the ship. There 
had been a first generation which 
had known Earth and could savor 
its flavor through the long years like 
a delicate wine, And there would 
be a last which could get out on 
the Centaurian planet, stretch its 
legs, and build civilization anew. 
But these in between were in limbo. 
They lived and they died on the 
ship, and it wasn't their idea. They 
would breed so that the ship would 
still have a crew when it reached 
Centauri. That was their function. 
But they didn't like it. 

All this went through Eric's 
mind. Perhaps the girl had no psy- 
chosis, perhaps her warning had 
been sincere. He Wondered if the 
lor>o- sleeo had dulled his instincts, 



his reflexes. 

He told them of Earth, of its 
wonders, of the wide meadows he 
remembered, of the Wind, brisk in 
spring, which brought the sweet* 
scented rain, of summer and the big 
harvest moon which followed, of a 
hundred other things. 

Glair! Clair! Did yoil marry, have 
children? There was that Lou 
Somebody who you'd flirt with to 
make me jealous, but we both knew 
he loved you. I wonder* 

He spoke of the planners, of the 
proud day when all the world had 
seen them off, the video jets flash- 
ing by, circling, to send their pic- 
tures to the waiting millions. 

The planners, he told them, had 
a vision. It was the same vision 
which had first taken man — an ape 
with a brain that held curious half- 
formed thoughts that gave him a 
headache — down from the trees. 
A vision which would Carry him 
one day to the farthest stars and 
beyond. 

They shouted. They stamped an 
the floor. They laughed. 

"What about us? We didn't have 
any say, did we? Who wants to 
spend his whole life in this tin 



can 



?»> 



"I don't know — " One of them at 
least was dubious, but the crowd 
stilled him. What of Laurie and her 
Cult? He did not see the girl any- 
where in the great hall. 

"We've had enough, Captain. 
Too much, I'd say!" 

Larkin looked smug. Lindquist 
was grinning. No one did anything 
to stop them as the crowd surged 
forward, threatened. 



RESURRECTION SEVEN 

Watching them, only now begin- 
ning to realize the whole thing, Eric 
remembered history. Mock-king- 
hood was nothing new in the 
scheme of primitive cultures. In 
ancient Babylonia, in Assyria — else- 
where — The mock king ruled for a 
day and the people came to him 
with their troubles. The king, cow- 
ering on his throne-of-a-day could 
perhaps see his executioner waiting. 
The real king had nothing to lose: 
the pent up dissatisfaction of his 
people would drown the mock-ruler 
like a wave, and after it was all 
over the king would return to his 
throne with more power than be- 
fore. 



ROUGH HANDS reached up, 
grabbed at him. Fists shook, 
voices threatened. Someone pulled 
his boot, and Eric sat down on the 
dais, breathing heavily. 

He got up fast, before they could 
swarm all over him, yanked the gun 
from his jumper, poked it against 
Larkin's ribs. "You know what this 
is?" 

"Yes— a gun." 

"Well, call your friends off or I'll 
kill you. I'm not' joking, Larkin. 
Call them off—" 

"I can't. Look at them, a mob. 
What can I do now?" 

"You'd better do something, be- 
cause soon you won't have a chance 
to do anything. Now!" 

Larkin made a motion to the 
trumpeteer. He blew two loud notes 
this time, and uniformed men ap- 
peared, brandishing clubs. Evident- 
ly, they were on hand in case the 
crowd became too wild, threatened 
Larkin, Lindquist and the other 



133 

nameless rulers. 

With their clubs they beat the 
mob back, slowly, held them off as 
Eric pushed Larkin before him. 
The crowd surged close, fought 
once or twice with the guards on 
their immediate flanks. Once Lar- 
kin tried to bolt away, but there- 
after Eric held him firmly until 
they reached an exit. 
. Together they sprinted down a 
corridor, Larkin puffing and stag- 
gering. "Beat it," Eric told him. 
"Go on, scram!" 

"You won't kill me as I run? I 
know that thing can kill over long 
distances — " 

"Don't give me any ideas," Eric 
said, but he felt a little sick as Lar- 
kin ran, whimpering, back toward 
the hajl. This man was their ruler, 
their leader. 

He found the door, activated its 
mechanism, waited impatiently 
while he heard the sounds of pur- 
suit. Something clanged against the 
door, and again. They were throw- 
ing things. Eric ducked, felt pain 
stab at his- shoulder. 

He could see their faces in the 
corridor when the door began to 
slide clear. He slipped in, punched 
the levers that would close it again, 
saw a hand and a leg come through 
the crack, heard a scream. The 
limbs withdrew, and Eric watched 
grimly as it slid all the way shut. 

Lazaruses Eight, Nine, and Ten, 
he thought, as he went to the three 
remaining tubs. For a moment he 
gazed down through the pinkish 
liquid at the men curled up, sleep- 
ing their long sleep. 

He shook the tubs gently. All it 
-would take was that — direct mo- 
tion. Once that had started the 



134 



STEPHEN MARLOWE 



cycle, each sleeper's hypothalamus 
took over, twenty-five, fifty, and 
seventy-five years ahead of schedule. 
He watched them twitch, shiver, 
Slowly uncurl, watched the vapors 
rising from theii; tubs. He had plen- 
ty of time. 

In a weekj he helped them from 
their tubs. They were ready to lis- 
ten — smiling baby-faced Chambers, 
gaunt Striker, rotund Richardson. 

He explained, slowly. He told 
them everything. 

"My God," Striker said when he 
had finished. 

"Be thankful you could get back 
here, lad," Richardson told him. 
"What do we do now?" 

"What can we do?" Chambers 
demanded. Then: "Will you look 
at that — a hundred seventy five 
years and I haven't even grown a 
beard!" 

They all laughed, and the tension 
was broken. "We go back," Eric 
said, "armed to the teeth. It won't 
be difficult. Some of them will die, 
but we can set the ship on its course 
again, teach them — I'd hate to see 
the disappointment on Earth if We 
went back after six generations." 

Striker frowned. "Have we the 
right to kill?*' 

Eric said, "look— they might get 
back to Earth someday— their prog- 
eny a bunch of savages; the hope 
and dreams of the race reduced tp 
— nothing. We can kill if we have 
to." 

It was agreed. Without saying 
anything,' Striker himself activated 
the lock. 



I WO MEN with clubs rushed 
them in the corridor, howling 



"Lazarus" and "death." It was 
Striker who shot them where they 
stood, before they could use the 
clubs. 

After that, they fired shots into 
the air, and people ran screaming 
away from them. Their first rush 
carried them almost to the control 
room and briefly Eric remembered 
when he had looked out from there 
with Clair at the bright faraway 
stars. But he could not quite picture 
Clair's face. He tried to, but he saw 
the girl, Laurie. . . . 

A dozen uniformed men stood 
before the control room. They 
looked badly frightened, but they 
stood their ground, then advanced. 

"What do we do now?" Cham- 
bers asked. "We couldn't get them 
all, not before—" 

There was a rush behind them as 
a score of figures marched into the 
corridor ; "We're trapped!" Striker 
cried. 

Eric grinned. "I don't think so." 
He had seen Laurie in the van- 
guard of the newcomers. 

They did not have to use their 
guns, not as they had been meant to 
be used. They fought with tooth 
and nail, Using the guns as clubs. 
But mostly, they stood back and 
watched their allies tedr into the 
guards. 

The girl Laurie cried: "I toid 
you there were some who believed, 
Eric Taine. I told you!" 

They reached the control room 
door, battered at it. Half a dozen 
men came up with a great post of 
metal, heaved. The door shuddered. 
Again. Again. It crashed in. 

Lindquist and Larkin stood 
there, over a great pile of charts 
and books. "You won't take this 



RESURRECTION SEVEN 



135 



ship on to Centauri," Larkin yelled. 

A little flame flickered at the end 
of the tube in his hand. He 
crouched. 

"If those are the astrogation 
charts—" said Striker. 

Eric dove, caught Larkin's mid- 
section with his shoulder, threw the 
man back. They struggled on the 
floor, and dimly Eric was aware of 
others who held the writhing Lind- 
quist. Larkin fought like a snake, 
twisting, turning, gouging. 

Eric, out of the corner of his 
eye, saw Lindquist breaking loose, 
watched him running with the 
brand to the pile of charts. A shot 
crashed through the room, echoing 
hollowly. Lindquist fell over his 
charts. 

Now Eric had Larkin down, was 
pinning him, felt the man's hands 
twisting, clawing at his stomach, 
saw them come away with his gun. 
They grappled, and Eric cursed 
himself for forgetting the gun. Lar- 
kin held it, laughed, squeezed the 
trigger as Eric pushed clear. 

Then the laughter faded as Lar- 
kin stared stupidly at the gun he 
had not known how to use. Larkin 
gasped once, held both hands to 
the growing red stain on his middle. 

«"PNEAD," Richardson said 
\J later. "They're both dead. 
You know, I think it's better this 
way. They would have been trou- 
ble. But now — now all we have to 
do is find the course again, turn the 
ship around — " 

"It'll mean two extra generations 
in space," Chambers said. "They've 



been heading back for Earth 
twenty-five years." 

With Eric, he studied the charts, 
assembled them, punched a few 
buttons on the computing machine. 
"Like this," Eric said. He twirled a 
few dials. "It takes a long time with 
the overdrive, but we'll be back on 
course in three years." 

For a while he gazed out the port, 
fascinated by the huge sweep of the 
Milky Way, clear and beautiful in 
the black sky. When he turned back 
and away from it, Laurie stood 
beside him. 

"Hello, Lazarus." 

"Very funny," he said. "Call me 
Taine— better still, call me Eric." 

"Eric, then. Hello, Eric." 

He grinned. "I guess you're not 
psychotic, after all." 

"Nope. Normal as can be. But 
take my great great grandmother, 
now. She was really neurotic. She 
married, all right, but they say she 
really carried a torch all her life." 

There was laughter in the girl's 
eyes as she spoke. Eric had seen 
other eyes like that. So familiar. So 
beautiful. 

"I am Laurie Simmons," the girl 
told him. "My great great grand- 
father's name was Lou Simmons. 
His wife was Clair. My mother has 
a book of hers, of poems she wrote 
to Eric." 

"Tell me about them, Laurie." A 
lovely girl; as pretty as her' great 
great grandmother. No — prettier — 
and part pf today. "Never mind, 
Laurie. Just tell me about yourself." 

He knew Clair would like it this 
way. 



THE END 



They wanted a world without war. 
The answer was simple: Stay in bed. 



Dreamer's World 



By Bryce Walton 



A WARNING HUM started 
somewhere down in the 
audoviso. 

Greg stared. Perspiration crawled 
down his face. This was it. This was 
the end of the nightmare. This had 
to be Pat Nichols. 

After seventy-two hours in which 
Greg had had to do without anes- 
thesia! Seventy-two hours of real- 
ity ! Seventy-two hours of conscious- 
ness! Consciousness. Reality. 

Greg didn't know how he'd man- 
aged to remain sane. 

It seemed incredible that a man 
who had advanced to Stage Five in 
the Dream Continuity Scale, and 
who had been in anesthesia most of 
the time, could suffer • seventy-two 
hours of boring, drab, dreary and 
revolting reality. And still be sane. 

Pat Nichols was the answer. Her 
body faded into slim and luscious 
focus on the three-dim screen. Her 
brooding eyes and wide mouth that 
curled so reprovingly. 



She had gone psycho. Had fled 
from the Cowl into the dreadful 
Outside, seventy-two hours ago. 
Gone to join that fanatical group 
of Venusian Colonists, those outlaw 
schizoids who planned to start over 
on Venus. 

"Pat!" Greg's hand reached as 
though she weren't just a three-dim 
image. "Listen, Pat! Thank the 
Codes, you haven't blasted yet. I've 
-been crazy, waiting for this call. 
Pat, I can't even go into integrated 
anesthesia without you around. My 
dreams don't seem to focus right." 

"That's too bad, Greg," she said. 

He moistened his lips slowly. He 
slid his hand toward the warning 
button beneath the table. Her eyes 
didn't notice, never left his face. 
Accusative, sad eyes. 

He felt sick. He pushed the but- 
ton; Now! Now Drakeson up on the 
apartment roof would trace the 
point of her call. He'd chart her lo- 
cation with the rhodium tracker 



136 




In his mind was the certainty: This is no dream. 



138 



BRYCE WALTON 



beams. Then the two of them 
would go and pick Pat up and pre- 
vent that insane, suicidal, one-way 
trip to Venus. 

She might consider it a very un- 
fair thing, but then she was psycho, 
She'd be glad of it, after she was 
brought back, brain-probed, and re- 
conditioned. The thought made 
Greg even more ill. Brain-probing 
and re-conditioning involved months 
of a kind of mental agony that no ■ 
one could adequately describe. The 
words were enough to give anes- 
thetic nightmares to any Citizen. 
But, it was for the good of the 
Cowls, and of the psychos. 

Her voice was sad too, like her 
eyes. "I was hoping you would join 
me, Greg. Anyway, I called to tell 
you that in about five hours, we're 
blasting. This is goodby." 

He said something. Anything. 
Keep her talking, listening. Give 
Drakeson a chance to employ the 
rhodium tracker, and spot her loca- 
tion. 

A kind of panic got loose in 
Greg's brain. "Pat, don't you have 
any insight at all? Can't you see 
that this is advanced psychosis, 
that—" 

She interrupted. "I've tried to 
explain to you before, Greg. But 
you've always preferred anesthesia. 
You loathe reality. But I'm part of 
reality." 

Yes. He had dreams. The anes- 
thetic cubicles. Stage Five where a 
man was master of thalamic intro- 
jection, dream imagery. A stage 
where any part of reality Was sup- 
posed to have faded into utter in- 
consequence. But Pat Nichols had 
always been a part of his condi- 
tioned personality pattern. By tak- 



ing her out of k, fate had struck 
him with an unbalance in psyche 
that disturbed the sole objective of 
life — to dream, 

"But that's a suicide trip, Pat, 
and you'll never have a chance to 
be 1 cured of your schizophrenia, 
even if you do get to Venus — " 

Her interruption had weariness 
in it. 

"Goodby, Greg. I'm sorry for 
you. That silly status quo, and* fu- 
tile dreaming. It will never let you 
realize what a fine man you are. 
You'll decay and die in some futile 
image. So goodby, Greg. And good 
dreaming." 

She was gone from the screen. 
Maybe from earth, unless he got 
out there and stopped her before 
that suicide ship rocketed out from 
its hidden subterranean blast tube. 



GREG HURRIED. He didn't 
realize he could function so 
rapidly in the world of physical re- 
ality. In seconds he had zipped thin 
resiliant aerosilk about his body, 
and was running across the wide 
plastic mesh roof toward the helio- 
cruiser in which Drakeson was 
waiting. 

Greg felt the physical power flow 
as he ran. It sickened him. The con- 
ditioners kept the body in good 
shape, but only to allow the corti- 
cal-thalamic imagery faculties to 
function better. Actual physical 
business like this was revolting to 
any Cowl citizen. Any sort of physi- 
cal and materialistic activity, di- 
vorced from anesthesia, might be a 
sign of enroaching psychosis. 

That was the fear. That fear of 
psychosis that might lead to vie- 



DREAMER'S WORLD 



139 



lence. To change. The Cowls over 
the Cities protected them from any 
physical interference with an abso- 
lutely stabile, unchanging and static 
culture. But the Cowls hadn't been 
able to protect the Citizenry from 
insanity. During the past year, psy- 
chosis had been striking increasing- 
ly, without warning, indiscriminate- 

Greg dropped down beside the 
thin ascetic figure at the controls. 
He grabbed Drakeson's arm. 

"Did you pick it up, Drake?" 

"Uh-huh," Drakeson drawled. 
His mouth was cynical, his gray 
eyes somber. "Traced it down to a 
ten meter radius, ,but it's under- 
ground. About five miles out of Old 
Washington, just inside the big ra- 
dioactivated forest east of the 
Ruins. About half an hour's flight 
as the crow might fly. If there was 
a crow left." 

"Then let's go. Lift this gadget 
out of here!" 

A spot of nausea bounced into 
Greg's stomach at Drakeson's ref- 
erence to what the big Chain blow- 
up had done to almost all high 
cellular life forms, including crows. 
Only insects and a few shielded hu- 
mans had withstood the radiation. 
Most higher complex cellular or- 
ganisms had paid for their com- 
plexity. But thanks to the establish- 
ment of the Cowled Cities and the 
Codes of non-change, non-violence, 
they wouldn't have to pay again. 
No chance for social change now 
that might lead to another such dis- 
aster. 

If they could only trace the cause 
for this psychosis epidemic — 

Greg hadn't ^thought about it at 
all until Pat had started talking pe- 



culiarly, then when she had broken 
up completely and left the Cowl, 
then it had -hit home, hard. 

The heliocruiser lifted slowly un- 
der Drakeson's awkward guidance. 
Only the Controllers, the Control 
Council Guards, could work the 
gadgetry of the City with practiced 
ease. Everybody else, naturally, was 
conditioned to various anesthesia 
states, and had no reason to deal 
with materialistic things. 

The cruiser lifted until it was fly- 
ing directly beneath the opaque 
stuff of the Cowl, lost in the daz- 
zling rainbows of sunlight shatter- 
ing through. 

Drakeson said. "We'll keep up 
here. Maybe the Controllers won't 
see us." 

"What?" A peculiar coolness slid 
along Greg's spine. 

"Maybe they won't see us," re- 
peated Drakeson, and then he 
smiled wryly. "Listen, Greg. You're 
way ahead of me in the Dream 
Continuity. You're a lot further 
away from reality than I am. More 
impractical. So listen to a word or 
two before we try to break through 
the Cowl. 

"We've never been Outside, 
don't forget that. It's dangerous. 
You haven't considered any of the 
angles. For example, I picked up a 
couple of shielding suits which you ■ 
hadn't thought of. And two small 
wrist Geigers. If I hadn't thought of 
them, then we'd probably have 
been contaminated with hard radi- 
ation out there, and would have 
been thrown into the septic pools 
for about six months." 

Greg shivered. That would have 
been very bad. 

"It's deadly out there; poisonous, 



140 

Greg. Only the insane have wanted 
to go Outside for the last few years, 
and only the Controllers have been 
out, and then only to try to track 
down the hiding places of the Colo- 
nists. You hadn't considered that, 
but I did. So I had to steal a couple 
of heat-blasters , from the Mu- 
seum ..." 

"You what?" Greg stared at the 
two deadly coiled weapons Drake- 
son dragged from beneath the seat. 
"Do the Controllers know?" 

"They've probably found out by 
now, or will very soon," Drakeson 
looked grim. "They'll be after us 
with sky-cars and para-guns. And- 
they're sure to slap a psycho label 
on lis. They would anyway, prob- 
ably, for just going Outside. But 
having destructive forbidden weap- 
ons on us, they're sure to, and we 
couldn't go Outside without weap- 
ons, Greg." 

That was right, Greg knew. Pa- 
ralysis guns wouldn't have been 
enough out there. Drakeson said 
softly : 

"Is she worth it, Greg? We may 
have to be brain-probed. Is she 
worth that kind of pain?" 



GREG'S stomach seemed to tie 
up in knots. Brain-probing, 
psychometry. Greg whispered 
hoarsely. "She's worth it, Drake. 
And besides, it's ridiculous to think 
that we'll be suspected. I'm only in- 
terested in preventing Pat from 
making that suicide trip. The Con- 
trollers have the same interest." 

"But that's their job. You and I 
aren't supposed to be concerned 
with reality. They've gotten very 
sensitive this last year. They can't 



BRYCE WALTON 

take any chances. At the least sign 
of disintegration, they have to ap- 
prehend and send you to psychom- 
etry." 

Greg said. "You trying to get out 
of your bargain, Drake? If you 
don't want that carton of Stage 
Five dream capsules, then — " 

"Oh no, I'll take a chance to get 
that carton. I never thought I'd get 
a chance to experience such pre- 
mature dreams. It's worth the gam- 
ble, we might get away without 
being probed." 

Greg's head ached. Reality al- 
ways gave him a headache. He 
wasn't used to it. A man who had 
reached Stage Five- had been an 
anesthesiac too long to find reality 
comfortable. 

"I know the Codes," Greg whis- 
pered. "Legally, there's no reason 
to be apprehended just for leaving 
the Cowl. And as for the blasters, 
well — we can drop them off, hide 
them, if the Controllers get after 
us." 

The cruiser ^ moved down the 
sloping arc of the Cowl toward the 
dark patch that Greg recognized 
as a merging chamber. The* plastic 
spires of the City reached up 
around them as though reaching 
for the sun. Only a few human fig- 
ures could be seen far below, on 
roofs, and in the streets. A few low 
stage humans not in anesthesia. 

Greg crawled into the shielding 
suit. He took over the unfamiliar 
controls while Drakeson got his own 
shielding suit on. They weren't 
heavy, but were sluggish material 
that could throw off ordinary ra- 
diation. 

Behind him Greg heard Drake- 
son's harsh yell. "Sky-cars! Ten of 



DREAMER'S WORLD 

them! Shooting up out of the Con- 
trol Tower and coming right to- 
ward us! Merge, and merge fast, 
Greg, if you still want to go Out- 
side." 

Inside the thick sheeting of the 
suit, Greg's skin was soaked with 
perspiration. His face, was strained 
as he moved the cruiser into the 
first lock chamber. The cruiser had 
to move through a series of locks 
to the Outside. A precaution to 
keep bacteria, radiation, other 
inimical elements from coming in 
while an exit from the Cowl was 
being made. 

One by one the locks opened and 
closed as grav-hooks pulled the 
cruiser through. It was a precari- 
ously balanced culture, this one in- 
side the Cowls, Greg thought. Like 
living inside a gigantic sealed test- 
tube. Any slightly alien elements 
introduced into that test-tube 
could make it a place of sealed 
death in a short time. A rigidly con- 
trolled, non-changing environment. 
That was fine, except that some hu- 
mans within it had a habit of 
changing, and/for the worse. Retro- 
gression, psychosis. 

Psychometry was trying frantical- 
ly to find the cause. It seemed ob- 
vious that the Venusian Colonists 
might be causing psychotics to ap- 
pear in order to swell their ranks 
of volunteers to go to Venus to start 
a "new dynamic, progressive or- 
der." Madness. Suicide. 

Progressive evolutionary philoso- 
phies meant change, and change 
might lead anywhere. But eventual- 
ly it could only lead to another hor- 
rible Chain. One Chain had been 
enough. 

The earth had been thoroughly 



141 

wrecked. The few survivors had set 
up the anti-reality standards, the 
Cowls and the Codes — and the 
Controllers. They established the 
Dream Continuity that led to the 
various anesthetic stages. 

But people went insane. They dis- 
agreed. They fled the Cowls. 
Venusian Colonial Enterprises re- 
sulted. It was organized insanity. A 
neatly planned psychosis, with 
grandiose delusions of justification. 
They would save humanity! Mad- 
ness. Schizophrenia. 

Venusian Colonization had been 
organized three years before. At 
least four known spaceships had 
been constructed, stocked, and 
blasted. They changed their sub- 
terranean hideouts after each blast. 
It had just never occurred to Greg 
that Pat could go psycho and join 
them. 

It was even more ridiculous for 
the Controllers to suspect him of 
being psycho. 

He felt a little better as the 
cruiser broke out beyond the Cowl 
and into the blazing natural sun of 
noon. It blinded Greg. Frightened 
him a little. 

He'd never seen the sun before, 
except dimmed by the Cowl. 

He sent the cruiser climbing 
rapidly above the weird grotesque 
terrain. Drakeson jumped into the 
seat beside him. His face was white. 

"Open the converter feed valves 
wide, Greg! Clear open! The Con- 
trol cars aren't stopping at the 
merger. They're coming on 
through. They're right behind us." 

Greg looked back. Ten sky-cars, 
and within neuro-gun range. He 
jerked the converter wide open. Ac- 
celeration slammed him back hard. 



142 

He knew now what fear was. In 
dreams you never suffered it. 



THE AUDIO in the control 
panel cracked out. 

"Dalson! Drakeson! Turn 
around! Re-enter the Cowl. Re- 
turn immediately. This is a Con- 
trol Council order. Do so or we fire 
with full charge neuro-blasts." 

Paralysis guns. And full blast. 
Greg swallowed. They meant busi- 
ness. And without even a formal en- 
quiry! 

Drakeson said in a whisper. 
"What are we going to do?" 

Greg didn't know. How could 
they think he was psycho? 

Drakeson licked his lips. "I don't 
want to go under the brain-probers, 
Greg. Nobody does. I don't want to 
be re-conditioned. I want to stay 
like I am. I'm not psycho. And 
they'll brain-probe us sure if we 
don't turn; around and go back. 
And even if we do — " 

The audio's cold impersonal 
voice said: 

"This is the last order. The 
neuro-guns are ready to fire." 

Greg's mind ran in mad circles. 
He tried to think. He felt Drakeson 
move, and then he saw Drakeson's 
hand with that infernal injection 
solution jiggling ardund in a big 
hypodermic syringe. 

'"I've just given myself another 
shot, Greg. You'd better have an- 
other right now. If we land down 
there we'll need all the adrenolex 
we can get." 

Greg hardly felt the injection as 
he tried tb think, clarify his situa- 
tion. I'm not psycho, he thought 
desperately. I'm doing something a 



BRYCE WALTON 

little bit different, but it isn't 
psychosis. 

But good integrated citizens 
■would not fight against the orders 
from Control. All right. He would 
submit to brain-probing. But he'd 
get Pat out of that trap she was in 
first. He might be able to talk her 
out of it if he could get to her per- 
sonally, be with her a while. The 
Controllers certainly couldn't. 
They'd drive her away into space as 
soon as she saw them. 

The solution. A legality. He knew 
the Codes didn't he? 

He yelled back at the pursuing 
sky-cars via the audio: 

"Don't fire those neuro-guns. 
This is Greg Dalson speaking. 
There's a law against any aggressive 
destructive action on the part of 
any Citizen." 

The audio replied. "The neuro- 
guns aren't destructive. Temporary 
paralysis." 

Greg said. "This cruiser is at a 
high altitude and traveling fast. If 
you paralyze us now, the cruiser 
will crash. By using the neuro-guns 
on us, you will be destructive, homi- 
cidal." 

A dead silence greeted this state- 
ment. Greg went on. "I'm a Stage 
Five citizen. Legally, there's no 
restriction against going outside the 
Cowl. I'll report your action and 
attitudes to the Council if you fire 
those neuro-guns." 

Drakeson choked something un- 
intelligible: His face was deathly 
pale. "Clever," he whispered. "But 
that clinches it. When we do go 
back, it's psychometry for us, 
Greg." 

Finally the audio answered. The 
voice was not so cold. It had a tinge 



DREAMER'S WORLD 

of emotionalism. It said. "A tech- 
nicality, but it does prevent us from 
firing the neuro-guns. However, we 
feel it our duty to remain with you 
until you do return to the Cowl. Be- 
cause of the recent epidemic of 
psychosis, we find this authorized by 
the Control Council. . . ." 

Greg savagely flipped off the 
audio. Drakeson said. "If they stay 
on our tcail, we'll lead them right to 
Pat. They'll scare her away before 
you get a chance to talk with her, 
and try to prevent her from going 
on the ship." 

"I know," Greg said. "I know. 
We've got to figure something — " 

He looked down at the fantastic 
semi-organic flora below. "How far 
to go yet, Drake?" 

"About three minutes." 

"All right. We'll set the cruiser 
down here, and walk to where Pat 
is." 

Drakeson choked. "That's sui- 
cide," he said. "We won't have a 
chance." 



GREG DIDN'T have time to be 
surprised at his own actions. 
He pulled Drakeson's hands away 
from the controls. Drakeson was 
trying to stop him from bringing 
the cruiser down. 

Drakeson gasped. "Even with the 
heat-blasters, we'll never get a hun- 
dred meters away from where we 
land. I figured on landing directly 
over the place — " 

"So will the Controllers," Greg 
said. He hurled Drakeson back, 
heard him sprawl on the mesh floor- 
ing where he lay, half sobbing. 

Greg angled the ship down 
abruptly. "As soon as we land, I'm 



143 

running for it," he called back. 
"The Controllers will be down 
there swarming all over us, and I 
don't want to lead them to where 
Pat is." 

Drakeson crawled oyer to the 
bunk and sat on it. "All right," he 
said. "I'm with you. It's too late to 
get out of it now. For a carton of 
premature dreams, I've gotten my- 
self stuck with a psycho tag. I'm 
stuck with it anyway, now. Might 
as well go on, and stay out of the 
brain-probers as long as possible." 

Greg felt a tingling crawl up his 
wrists as they dropped down above 
the gigantic, semi-organic forest. 
Mutated cells in the process of 
change had played havoc with the 
pre-Chain life forms. According to 
what little he had gotten from info- 
tapes, there was no longer any dis- 
tinction or at least very little, be- 
tween organic and inorganic life, 
outside the Cowls. 

Psycho. He'd still argue with 
Drakeson about that, but Tie didn't 
have time. He wasn't psycho. As 
soon as he persuaded Pat to aban- 
don the flight, they'd give them- 
selves up, return to the Cowl, and 
things would return to normal, to 
anesthesia, Stage Five, then Six, 
then Seven, on to the final eternal 
dream. 

That's the way it was going to be. 

And if they had to suffer the 
hells of brain-probing and the aw- 
ful ego-loss of re-conditioning, then 
they would do that too. It was for 
the good of the Cowls, the preserva^ 
tion of the Codes. A noble sacrifice. 
Must be.no change. No menace to 
stability. Any suggestion of change 
made one suspect; 

Greg's eyes misted as he brought 



144 

the cruiser to a half -crash landing. 
Even as he tried to bring his blurred 
vision into focus, he was running to 
the exit. He had the sliding panel- 
open. He was up to his knees in 
writhing tendrils. He was running 
througha crimson twilight. 

Behind him, he heard Drakeson 
tearing through the tendrils, and 
clutching vines. Overhead he could 
hear the drone of the sky-car's 
atomurbinic motors. Whether they 
would land and continue the search 
on foot through the deadly forest, 
Greg couldn't know. 
, He didn't know anything about 
the Controllers' methods. "How far, 
Drake," he yelled through the inter- 
person audio. Drakeson came run- 
ning up beside Greg. Severed 
strings of torti, still living life-stuff 
writhed from his shoulders and legs. 

"I'd say about half a mile straight 
ahead. That's a long way through 
this nightmare." 

Greg screamed. A broad mush- 
room-like growth had opened a 
mouth. A gigantic, sickeningly gray 
mouth full of deadly, flesh-eating 
acid. 

A flower-bright vine with great 
tensile strength raked Drakeson in 
toward that gaping maw. 

Drakeson' s arms were held tight 
against his sides. He was straining — - 
helpless. Through the glassine mask 
of his helmet, Greg saw Drakeson' s 
face turning red with constriction. 

His voice came to Greg in a burst 
of fear. "The gun, Greg! The heat- 
blaster — quick — " 

Greg leaned forward, staring in 
rigid fascination. Fleshy stocks 
swayed toward him. Other mouths 
opened, petal mouths. Gigantic 
floral traps, and cannibal blooms. 



BRYCE WALTON 

"Greg! Greg!" Drakeson was 
framed now by that great cannibal 
maw. 

Greg had the heat-blaster up. He 
had it leveled. But he couldn't de- 
press the firing stud. 

"Drake! I can't! I can't!" 

How could any integrated man 
be deliberately destructive? How 
could any sane person — kill? 

"I can't— Drake— " The awful 
conflict seemed to rip through his 
body. He felt the sweat, hot and 
profuse, rolling down his face. He 
concentrated on that gun, on his 
finger, on the firing stud. 

The cannibal blossom was clos- 
ing. Sticky juices dripped over 
Drakeson. He was screaming. 
Greg's finger lifted. He could nbt 
fire. 

The Codes said no destruction. 
No killing. The Codes had been 
established after the great Chain 
disaster. Violence begets violence, 
the Codes said. And once begun, it 
was accumulative, like the snow- 
ball rolling down hill. 

Greg sagged. His knees buckled. 
He sprawled out in the slippery 
muck. Tendrils swished softly and 
hungrily around him. He heard a 
shout. He tried to twist his head. 
Figures blurred before his eyes, and 
he heard the deadly chehowww- 
, www of a terrific blast. 

The last thing he remembered 
before the dark wrapped him up 
softly and warmly, was the cannibal 
plant exploding in a million frag- 
ments of stringy tissue, and Drake- 
son falling free. 

/ didn't fire, he was thinking. 
Someone else saved Drakeson. But 
I think I might have done it. My 
ftnger-^-it was moving — bending — 



DREAMER'S WORLD 



145 



or was it? No. I couldn't have been 
destructive. Couldn't have killed. 



CONSCIOUSNESS came back 
to Greg. Painfully. It came, 
back slowly and it took a long time. 
He lifted his eyelids. He raised him- 
self to a sitting position. He stared 
down a gloomy, phosphorescent 
corridor. It was obviously subter- 
ranean. It was damp, chill. Cold 
luciferin light glowed from lichen 
on walls and low ragged ceiling. 

It was long and it finally curved, 
he decided. But he could look back 
into a long slow curve of corridor 
and ahead into the same. Here and 
there, the mouths of branch corri- 
dors came in. 

He looked at his hand. It still 
clutched the butt of the heat -blast- 
er. 

He felt strange. The surround- 
ings were very real, yet they seemed 
somehow not real. The shock of 
trying to fire that blaster when the 
sanity in him shrieked "No!" had 
been too much foishim. The shock 
had blanked him out. 

He breathed a deep sigh of tem- 
porary relief and triumph. He 
hadn't killed. He thought of Drake* 
son. Somebody had saved him. 
Someone had killed. Not the Con- 
trollers. They could employ only 
the neuro-guns to paralyze. So he 
decided that Colonists had probably 
saved Drakeson. 

Terror gripped Greg then. He 
remembered Drakeson yelling at" 
him, the distended eyes, the strain- 
ing face. And how he himself had 
almost given in, had almost killed. 

Had almost gone psycho. 

But he hadn't. That was the im- 



portant thing. He was still a sane, 
integrated part of the Cowls and 
the Codes. And after a test like that, 
he figured that nothing could break 
him. Let them send him to psy- 
chometry. Let them clamp on the 
brain-probers and leave them on for 
months. They'd not find any psycho 
tendencies in Greg Dalson. 

Greg tried to reason. But he had 
no place, no foundation, for a be- 
ginning. He didn't know where he - 
was, or why he had been left here. 
He knew that someone, the Colo- 
nists probably, had saved Drakeson 
from that plant thing. Some mental 
pressure had blacked him out, he 
thought, and then what? He didn't 
know. 

Which way? It didn't seem to 
matter. He started walking. 

He was bone-weary. His head 
throbbed. His eyes burned. And he 
Was afraid. He had gotten himself 
into a completely un-Codified situa- 
tion. He was lost, helpless, outside 
the protection of the Cowls, the 
Codes, and anesthesia. 

He was surrounded by reality. 
Reality in all its essential horror. 
Conflict. Physical danger. ^Uncer- 
tainties. Materialistic barriers. All 
the old shibboleths that the Cowls 
and the Codes and the anesthesiac 
dreams had protected him from. 

And all because of Pat Nichols. 

But he'd stood a big test. And 
he'd won. He hadn't killed. He 
wasn't destructive. He — 

The cry touched his ears and 
died. It was too violent and filled 
with pain and terror to make any 
definite impression the first time. 
He crouched. His eyes distended. 
The scream came again, and this 
time it chopped through him. His 



146 

nerves seemed to shrivel and curl 
beneath the repeated onslaughts of 
the screams. 

Then he was running. He didn't 
know why, except that he had to 
run. He ran with fearful, gasping 
desperation. But he didn't know 
why. 



HE RAN past the mouth open- 
ing into the main corridor. 
Then came back and ran into the 
darker, strangely-lighted artery. He 
ran harder. And yet he wasn't run- 
ning. Not all of him. As he ran, he 
was conscious of some undefinable, 
but terrific conflict. 

Beneath the suit, his skin burned 
with sweat. He felt the rigid pat- 
tern of tensed neck and jaw mus- 
cles. 

I don't feel at all familiar. Some- 
thing's very wrong. Everything's 
wrong. I'm displaced, like some- 
thing that has slipped into an alien 
dimension. 

He stopped, quickly. His heart 
seemed to swell, burst with terror. 
Terror and something else. The 
something else came, and with it 
came horror of itself. The emotion, 
and then horror of the emotion. He 
stood shivering, his teeth clacking 
like an ancient abacus. 

"Pat!" He screamed her name. 
The cry pounded back into his ears 
inside the helmet. 

This wasn't DrakescJn. This was 
Pat. Pat was going to die now. Not 
Drakeson. 

The walls were — alive. They 
were not like the walls of the cor- 
ridors. This was a circular chamber, 
and the walls were sagging and un- 
dulating like part of a giant's flesh. 



BRYCE WALTON 

He heard heavy sluggish sounds. 

Masses of the gray viscous stuff 
sagged, changed form, remolded 
itself into monstrous shapes. 

Pat! Only her face and part of 
her upper body were visible now. 
The shielding of her suit had been 
cracked wide open by pressure as 
the semi-organic thing, whatever it 
was, had closed around her. • 

The walls rushed in as Greg 
stumbled drunkenly. The ceiling 
sagged lower. Long knobs fell, like 
globules of paste, then lengthened 
into shapeless tendrils that snapped 
out at Greg. 

He fell back. 

Pat's scream penetrated again. 
No beauty remained in her face 
now. Her eyes were sick. Her lips 
were loose and trembling. 

"Greg — help me — help me — see 
what it does — the others — " 

He saw the others then. Maybe 
he hadn't noticed before, because 
his mind didn't want him to see. 

Husks. Pallid wrinkled husks, 
sucked dry and shriveled. Several 
figures not recognizable anymore, 
hardly recognizable as human. Just 
vaguely human, broken, sucked dry. 

His mind seemed covered by a 
grotesque shadow. His flesh crawled 
and his throat turned dry, and pers- 
piration made a stream down his 
throat. He felt his eyes looking 
down at his right hand. 

It held the heat-blaster. The skin 
felt tight as though it would split as 
he gripped the heavy butt of the 
coiled weapon. 

He concentrated on the finger 
that was frozen on the firing stud. 
If he could destroy, then he was in- 
sane. His experience with Drakeson, 
that had been no test at all com- 



DREAMER'S WORLD 

pared with this. This was Pat. Pat, 
and she was dying— dying unspeak- 
ably. 

This was the great test of his 
sanity. He- concentrated on the fin- 
ger. He must keep it frozen. He 
must back out of here. Get away, 
get back to the Cowl, back to anes- 
thesia and sleep. 

The finger raised slowly from the 
stud. His feet lifted as his body 
moved fitfully back, back> back — 

"Greg^-help me, Greg — " 

Her eyes stopped him. They tum- 
bled into terrible clarity. She whis- 
pered starkly. 

"Greg— help me— kill it, Greg; 
For me— Kill it." 

He felt his lips part in a great and 
terrible cry of torture. His shoul- 
ders began to twitch slightly. His 
arms and fingers took up the jerky 
rhythm. Horror and a violent crim- 
son flood of unfamiliar emotions 
mushroomed like a volcano of mad- 
ness. Something began crumbling 
away. 

He lurched forward. He felt the 
heat-blaster heaving, throwing out 
its. deadly load. The gun had weight 
and power in his hand as he 
crouched lower and moved in. 

The power load swathed in long 
slicing arcs. Steam and sickening 
stench fell around him. He moved 
in. He stumbled forward kicking 
out to right and left at the quiver- 
ing slices ef stuff that were falling 
around him. 

Destruction. Kill. Death. This 
was all three, and in a giant, almost 
inconceivable quantity. 

Her face through the steaming 
cloud. Her throat moving as she 
swallowed. Brightness, the bright- 
ness of disbelief and impossibility 



147 

coming into her eyes. 

He kept moving in until the 
monstrous mutated gray thing was 
thoroughly dead. Until every sep- 
arate tendril and patch was blasted 
to smoke. Then he lifted her broken 
body in his arms. 

Tears fell on the opaqueness of 
his helmet. "I'm sorry, Pat/' he 
choked. "I'm sorry it didn't happen 
sooner. I'm sorry I waited too long 
— but it isn't easy — to let yourself 
go insane." 

Something was wrong." Pat! Pat! 
She seemed to be fading away from 
him, drifting away, melting into tat- 
tered veils of cloud. Her face be- 
came only two bright glad eyes, 
then they, also melted together into 
a radiant pool. He toppled into the 
pool. He sank down, a wonderful 
lifelessness spreading through him. 

He closed his eyes. Something 
was beginning to be very funny. In 
the thickening dark, he laughed a 
little. And in that laugh was a crazy, 
climbing note of — triumph. 



HE OPENED his eyes. He Was 
laughing, in a kind of soft 
hysteria. He was on a couch. Not a 
a dream couch, but just a plain 
hard bed. He sat up stiffly. Pain 
tingled down his legs. He saw Pat 
Nichols. And another. A man. He 
remembered him vaguely, one of 
the first who had escaped from the 
Cowl. His name — yes — he remem- 
bered now. MerroL 

Pat Nichols, alive, and smiling. 
VePy beautiful too in a brief aero- 
silk bra and shorts and sandals. Her 
hair was a dark lovely cloud flowing 
down over bare shoulders. 

"Hello, Greg," she said softly. 



148 

"Welcome to — the Colonists." 

"What?" He swung his legs 
around. "I don't understand. Not 
entirely." 

Merrol, a gaunt elderly man, 
nodded from behind a desk. Mer- 
rol's hair was gray and sparse. 
Strange, seeing a man who showed 
age. Within the Cowls, one never 
grew physically old. 

Pat said, "This is Ralph Merrol, 
Personnel Director of Venusian 
Colonization Enterprises." 

Greg's numbness was filtering 
away beneath Pat's warm glad eyes. 
He raised his hand. The heat- 
blaster was still gripped in his fin- 
gers. It evidently hadn't been fired. 

"It was all illusion," he said. 
"The scene in the cavern. It never 
happened?" 

Merrol's care-lined face nodded. 
"It happened, but in your mind, 
Greg. We rescued you and Drake- 
son from the cannibal plant. We 
brought you here. You had lost con- 
sciousness. We put you under the 
hypnosene rays, and put you 
through an experience that was 
quite real to you. We proved some- 
thing to ourselves, and to you. Greg 
— you're sane now." 

Greg tried to understand. The 
thing didn't make sense yet, but the 
glimmerings of the truth were be- 
ginning to solidify in his aching 
brain. 

"Sane? But I killed. I wanted to 
kill. I wanted to destroy, and I did. 
That's hardly the actions of a — 
sane man." 

Merrol smiled thinly. "From -our 
point of view it is, Greg. We consid- 
er ourselves sane. We consider the 
Cowled Cities, and the Codes in- 
sane. It's relative I supposed, but 



BRYCE WALTON 

I think we can convince you, if we 
haven't already." 

Greg looked at Pat. She smiled. 
He smiled back. "Justified or not," 
he whispered. "I'm here. Sane or 
insane, I'm one of the Colonists 
now I guess. Unless I want to re- 
turn to the Cowls, be probed and 
re-conditioned." 

Pat whispered. "Do you, Greg?" 

He shook his head. "Not now. 
I'm tired. I don't want to now. 
Maybe I never will. All I want now, 
is rest." 

Merrol leaned across the desk. 
"Before you rest, you'd better get 
a few things straight, Greg. We 
want you to be convinced that 
you're doing the right thing. We 
feel that the big Chain blowup 
shocked the whole human race into 
a mass psychosis, comparable to in- 
dividual cases of hysteria, schizo- 
phrenia, escape from reality. That's 
why the non-change, non-aggres- 
siveness Codes were established. 
Also, the anesthesia, the Dream 
Continuity Scale — nothing but hys- 
teria on a mass and planned basis." 

Merrol got up. He walked 
around and sat down beside Greg. 

"Carried out to its inevitable end, 
this could only lead to mass racial 
suicide. That's obvious. It was a 
static dead end. A few people re- 
covered from the psychosis. They 
escaped, and formed the Colonists. 
But their own welfare wasn't the 
most important thing. 

"They concerned themselves then 
with the freeing of the Citizens of 
the Cowls from their psychosis. The 
world is untenable on a large scale 
now, due to radioactive poisoning. 
It will remain untenable for some 
time. Meanwhile we decided to 



DREAMER'S WORLD 

Colonize Venus. We've established 
Colonies there. Thriving communi- 
ties, but the important thing is this, 
Greg — it's given new impetus and 
enthusiasm to those who become 
sane and escape the Cowls. It pre- 
sents a big challenge and solidifies 
the cure. ' 

"It's bigger than Control has any 
idea that it is. It will take a long 
time yet, but we'll win. You have 
noticed the increase in so-called in- 
sanity in the Cowls. It really means 
just the opposite. Our numbers are 
increasing by leaps and bounds.*' 

Greg said. "The Controllers 
think you're using some psycholog- 
ical of physical pressure to create 
these — cures." 

Merrol smiled. "We've got a re- 
cruiting system. Drakeson, for ex- 
ample, is a spy. We have spies all 
over the Cowls." 

Greg stared. "Drakeson?" 

A door opened. The lean cynical 
tnan entered, nodded, and stood be- 
side Pat. His eyes shone more 
brightly as he looked at Greg. 

"That's right," Drakeson said. 
"Remember the two injections. I 
Said they were adrenolex. They 
weren't. Our spies inside the 
Cowls are equipped with a supply 
of a certain aggression factor. It 
used to be called Kappa, or K, for 
killer. This factor is handed down 
through the generations in the 
general cell protoplasm. It forces 
aggressive tendencies. It makes a 
man capable of physical aggressive 
action, and able to kill, if he has to. 
High motivation is required though, 
in most cases. With you, my prob- 
able death wasn't enough. It took 
the vision of Pat here in the 
clutches of a monster to make the 



149 

Kappa factor work on yoU, Greg." 
Greg rubbed his eyes. Pat came 
over and he took her hand, held it 
tightly. A warmth came out of her 
and into him, into his mind. 



DRAKESON went on. "We iso- 
lated the Kappa factor, made 
it into solution. We all have it, even 
the anesthetic citizens of the Cowls, 
but the mass shock psychosis won't 
let it work. However, a strong over- 
* load of Kappa injection will some- 
times break the psychosis, force the 
person back into an aggressive per- 
sonality, capable of destruction. 
Each individual carries an arma- 
ment of between 200 and 800 par- 
ticles of the Kappa factor after we 
give an injection. It took 1600 parr 
tides to break your suicidal hys- 
teria." 

Pat squeezed his hand. Greg 
looked up. He grinned with a kind 
of glad embarrassment. 

"I don't know yet Whether to 
thank you or not. Frankly though, 
I do feel better." 

He thought of the Cowls. Test- 
ttfces, glass cages, and dreams that 
led finally to the final anesthesia, 
death. He shuddered, and tried to 
push the memory out of his mind. 
It seemed unhealthy now. Unclean 
and — yes, it did seem insane; 

He raised his eyes to the ceiling. 
He saw the self -inverting three di- 
mensional mechanism that had 
given him that starkly real adven- 
ture in which he had been able to 
kill, for Pat. A dream sequence, 
partly hypnotic, partly created by 
cathode image activating the multi- 
phase AC. A high harmonic of 
multi-phase AC field hanging over 



150 

him, and a focusing radiator. 
Dream. Nightmare. 

He looked at Pat. "I think I'll 
take reality now," he said softly. 
He felt the pull on his arm, and he 
got up. She led him through a door 
and into a soft twilight. He held her 
tightly against him. 

She whispered. "The ship's wait- 
ing for us, Greg. The next ship. 
You're already on the passenger list. 
You see, I knew you'd come with 
us. I was hoping so desperately, I 
couldn't think any differently." 

He kissed her. He held her more 
tightly as though — as though — 

He felt her warm muscles tense 
against him. Her eyes widened. 

"Greg! What is it?" 

He shook his head. "I — I got to 



BRYCE WALTON 

wondering if this too, might not be 
just a dream. . I've been in anes- 
thesia too long rnaybe. How can I 
know what's real and what isn't 
real?" 

He felt her warm moist fingers 
on the back of his neck. He felt 
her lift on her toes, pull his face 
down. She kissed him. Her voice 
was husky, and her breath was 
warm on his lips. 

"Do you know now, Greg? Is this 
a dream?" 

He shook his head. His voice was 
hoarse. 

"No — no — this isn't a dream." 

She laughed softly. They moved 
away, down the corridor toward the 
ship. 



THE END 



^ ^***-****^*^-***^*i**»****^^-**^^-^^^'^>+******^'^^-+*^^>^^-^^'^ •^■■^■•i*** - ^*'^ ^ *y 



His story reads like fantasy— yet 
Science has never disproved it! 



AT THE AGE of ten he 
caused his bowl of oatmeal 
to skip about the breakfast 
table, and furniture to be lifted 
by unseen hands. At thirteen 
he was prophesying events, 
even death, with alarming ac- 
curacy. At twenty-five he was 
holding spellbound men — - 
scholars, emperors, scientists, 
critics — whose names ring in 
the pages of history! 

Daniel Home was probably 
the greatest medium the mod- 



ern world has ever known. His 
feats were more than amazing 
— they were supernatural. Wit- 
nesses could hardly believe their 
eyes, yet they had to — for no 
one could ever refute him! 

Read the thrilling, fascinat- 
ing story of this great Amer- 
ican-reared medium in the 
May issue of — 

STRANGE 

On sale at all newsstands — 35 cents 



The Reamer mansion was on trial. It 
announced its own verdict — guilty! 



THE REVEALING 



Pattern 



By Alvin Helher 



HE WAS a man easily smiled at; 
a little birdlike individual 
carrying an ufnbrella and wearing 
upon his pink face a look remind- 
ful of happy secrets about to be re- 
vealed. He came to my desk during 
the midaftemoon lull and said, "I 
am Professor Jonathan Waits. I 
have come to avail myself of your 
facilities." 

I had never heard it put quite 
that way before, but from Professor 
Waits, it did not sound stilted. It 
was the way you would expect him 
to put it. He beamed at the ceiling 
and said, "What a fine old library, 
my dear. I must bring Nicholas 
some time." 

I gave him the smile reserved 
financial supporters and unknown 
quantativcs and asked, "Could I be 
of service?" 

He didn't get to it immediately. 
"I understand this library is fairly 



crammed with old records — "data 
on the historical aspects of this 
area. Personal histories and such." 

He had a way of radiating his 
own cheerful mood. "Oh yes," I 
assured him. "It's an exceptional 
day when we don't sweep a D.A.R. 
or two out of the aisles come clos- 
ing time." 

This, according to his laugh, was 
quite good. He said, "I'm sure 
we'll get on splendidly, Miss — ?" 

"— Hopstead." < 

"Are you a native?" 

"A New Englander from way 
back," I assured him. "Some of my 
ancestors used to drink buttered 
rum with Captain Rogers." 

"Then possibly you'd like, to know 
about my work." 

"I certainly would." And, 
Strangely enough, I did. 

"I am a researcher into the— 
well, the unusual." 



151 



152 

"Psychic research?" I inquired, 
wanting him to know we New Eng- 
enders were not dullards. 

"No. Nothing to do with the 
supernatural at all. My work is to 
prove that all occurrences, however 
mysterious, are the logical result of 
previous actions of individuals ; that 
superstitions are the result, not so- 
much of ignorance, but lack of 
knowledge." 

While I wrestled with that one, 
he said, "Maybe I could be a trifle 
more explicit." 

"That would help." 

His bright little eyes got even 
brighter. "Do you know, by chance, 
of the Reamer mansion over in 
Carleton?'; 

I certainly did. It was some 
thirty miles from Patterson, but as 
a child, I'd visited the place. All 
children within the radius had 
visited the Reamer mansion at least 
once. It was an ancient fifteen room 
cockroach trap with such a history 
of death and violence behind it as 
to cause the kids to walk on tiptoe 
through its silent rooms. I told the 
professor I knew about it. 

"It has been vacant for fifteen 
years," he observed. 

"And will be vacant for twice 
fifteen more, I imagine." 

"That's just the point. Super- 
stition. Otherwise solid and sane 
people wouldn't dream of moving 
into the Reamer mansion. And it's 
so silly." 

"It is?" 

"Of course. And that's why I'm 
here. I intend to prove, so the most 
stubborn will understand, that the 
house itself has nothing whatsoever 
to do with its own grim past; that 
the people who lived in it are to 



ALVIN HEINER 

blame." 

It was a dull day and he was such 
an apparently sincere little man 
that I decided to keep the conver- 
sation alive. "I'm afraid you'll have v 
a hard time proving it. Let's see — 
the first one was old Silas Reamer. 
He committed suicide there. That 
was sometime . around 1925. 
Then—" 

" — His son, Heriry Reamer, was 
found dead under mysterious cir- 
cumstances two years later. Murder 
was obvious, but nothing has ever 
been done about it." 

I frowned in mock severity. "I 
don't like the way you put that, 
Professor. Do you imply that we 
New Englanders condone vio- 
lence?" 

"Oh, not at all. There were just 
— no clues, from what I've learned. 
The next unfortunate, a renter 
named Miles McGormick, was 
found dead along with his wife and 
child as a result of lethal gas from 
a faulty stove." 

"That happened the year I was 
born. We have the old newspapers 
here, telling about it." 

"Those reports, along with other 
material are what I wish to study," 
Professor Waits said, then went on. 
"The house stood vacant for five 
years, until a Johnathan Hays 
bought it." 

"But Johnathan Hays never 
moved in. He died of a heart attack 
while carrying a chair through the 
front door." 

He beamed on me. "You are a 
remarkably alert young woman; 
well up in local history." 

"With no credit to me. You'd be 
hard put finding a citizen around 



THE REVEALING PATTERN 

here who doesn't know the history 
of the Reamer mansion." 

"Not 'of tlje Reamer mansion', 
my dear. Of the people who just 
happened to reap their ill-fortune 
there." 

"You insist the house had noth- 
ing to do with it?" 

"Nothing whatever." 



^D ROFESSOR— I wonder if 

I you know how big a bite 
you've taken? If you go up in the 
hills hereabouts you'll find whole 
families living in dirt-floor houses, 
You'll find , children who nevef 
heard of a bath or a telephone. But 
you won't find one person who 
would live in the Reamer mansion 
for a salary paid promptly every 
Saturday morning." 

"Nonetheless," Professor Waits 
replied, "the so-called jinx of the 
mansion, or any other maligned 
locality, is a matter of monstrous 
coincidence. The truth lies hidden 
in the lives of the people involved. 
I've been ferreting out that truth." 

"You mean this isn't a beginning, 
Professor?" 

He grasped his umbrella in a 
manner indicating he meant to 
spear a dragon in case there were 
any around, and said, "Oh my no! 
I've been tracing the lives of the 
principals in this drama for some 
time. It involves long, tedious work. 
I must not only dig into the lives 
of the unfortunates themselves, but 
also into those of kin; even— in 
some cases — friends." 

"What did you find out about the 
murder?" 

He evaded neatly. "I am not 
seeking a killer as such. Relative to 



153 

that facet of the case, I am more 
interested in Henry Reamer him- 
self. A very wise man once said, 'If 
you would understand violence, 
look also into- the heart of the mur- 
dered'. A man carries the seeds of 
his destiny in his own soul." 

"And you intend to prove it?" 

"I am finding more proof every 
day. Soon I shall publish a paper 
which will startle the thinking 
world." 

I could see the Professor wasn't 
one to be backed into any corners. 
"And how can I help in this Work?" 

"I am tracing at the moment, 
certain details in the life of Mabel 
Tutworthy, an aunt of Silas Reanv 
er. Ujiauthenticated legends indi- 
cate she killed an eight-point buck 
once, with her bare hands, and 
dragged it home across ten miles of 
forest." 

"I've heard that, and it's prob- 
ably true. You think it has some- 
thing to do with what happened to 
Silas?" 

" — And his son Henry." 

"I think you'll find what you 
want in that section by the south 
window. It's devoted to local his- 
tory." 

"Thank you, my dear." He 
moved away, reminding me some- 
how, of a happy retriever going into 
a lake after a duck. Halfway to the 
shelves, he halted suddenly and 
turned. "Did you know that seventy 
percent of the accidents happen to 
twenty percent of the people?" 

I didn't, but I refused to admit 
such backwardness. "I certainly do. 
Amazing, isn't it?" 

"That is one of the pillars upon 
which my work is based." 

"And there are others?" 



154 

"Seven in all." 

He didn't tell me what the other 
six were. Instead he disappeared in- 
to local history and left me with the 
latest best seller I was reading un- 
der the counter lest some child 
come in and be stripped of all inno- 
cence by one glance. 

It was two hours before Professor 
Waits reappeared. He carried a 
small blue notebook in one hand 
and a stub pencil in the other. He 
was positively beaming. "A gold 
mine," he said. "A veritable gold 
mine. Did you know that Ezekial 
Webb, a cousin of William Tut- 
worthy was gored by a bull in the 
year 1862?" 

"No— really?" 

Then I was truly ashamed of my- 
self. He was such a pleasant, sincere 
little man and he got such fun out 
of life. But he misinterpreted my 
boorishness for true enthusiasm and 
said. "It's a fact ! Imagine ! Walking 
in here and finding one of the links 
I've hunted for months. I'm indebt- 
ed to you, my dear, for directing me 
to that book shelf." 

I could have told him he was un- 
der no obligation; that I got, each 
week, the coolie stipend of twenty 
eight dollars for doing just that; 
but I didn't want him starting an 
investigation into peonage system 
practiced in libraries and schools. 

Then something in the little 
man's manner, sobered me. "Profes- 
sor — exactly why are * you doing 
this?" 

He blinked. "I have plenty of 
money. I have the time. It interests 
me. And I feel it a worthy occupa- 
tion; gathering knowledge through 
which people may know the true 
causes of misfortune ; may throw off 



ALVIN HEINER 

the yoke of superstition." 

"You feel, then, that nothing 
happens by chance?" 

"My dear," he said^' solemnly, "in 
this ordered universe there can be 
no such thing. Action and achieve- 
ment — cause and result. The re- 
vealing pattern of each man's ac- 
tions is in the pasts of himself and 
his antecedents." 

"And by proving this you will 
exonerate the Reamer mansion of 
all guilt?" 

He smiled. "You are a most in- 
telligent young lady. Most intelli- 
gent! I shall see a great deal of you 
in the weeks to come." 



IT WAS not a distasteful pros- 
pect. I liked the Professor and 
was glad he liked me. After he left 
I went back and found not a single 
book out of place. I liked him even 
more. 

Two weeks passed before I saw 
Professor Waits again. He came in 
out of the sunshine, carrying his 
black umbrella and wearing the 
same black string necktie. I was 
busy at the time, finding an accept- 
able book for Mrs. Winsolow's little 
Freddie who was in bed with the 
pip. When I got clear, Professor 
Waits was deep in his research and 
I did not disturb him. 

He came pattering out just before 
closing time and I was struck by the 
somber — almost sad — expression he 
wore. 

"Did you have trouble finding 
what you wanted, Professor?" 

"Oh no. The records are most 
voluminous. It's just — well, the 
nature of my discoveries." 

"Bad?". 



THE REVEALING PATTERN 

"Very bad, Miss Hopstead. Do 
you know who Henry Reamer's 
murderer was?" 

"No." 

"Miles McCormiek, the renter 
who died there so tragically with 
his family." 

I didn't quite know how to re- 
spond; whether I should faint or 
scream for the police. I settled for 
a philosophical comment. "A case 
Of justice by a higher power." 

"You mean McCormick's 
death?" 

"Of course." 

"On the contrary. There was no 
connection at all between the two 
events. McCormiek and his wife 
and child died because they vio- 
lated a certain law, but not neces- 
sarily a law on the statute books." 

"I'm afraid I don't quite follow 
that." 

"Look at it this way, Miss Hop- 
stead. You are walking through a 
dark room. A door is standing open. 
You come into violent contact with 
the edge of it. What happens?" 

"A broken nose? A black eye." 

"Precisely. The fact you didn't 
know the door was there didn't pro- 
tect you from the consequences." 

This of course, I was forced to 
concede. 

"Now let's go a step further by 
taking, as example, a lower men- 
tality than our own. A horse, know- 
ing nothing of the laws of electrici- 
ty, would step on a high Voltage 
wire and never know why it was 
electrocuted. In such a case, the 
animal would violate a law it did 
not know existed." 

I was beginning to see what he 
was driving at. "You mean — " 

"We are far above the horse in 



155 

mentality and understanding but 
there are still many laws we do not 
understand. That is what my work 
involves." 

I insisted upon being heard. 
"You mean a lot of apparently in- 
nocent things we do are really elec- 
tric wires." 

He beamed. "Exactly. When we 
reap misfortune it is because we 
Violate some law. Ignorance of that 
law doesn't change the end-result 
one iota." 

"And you're trying to find out 
what these — these booby trap* 
are?" 

"Oh I know many of them al* 
ready. My paper will surprise thi 
world. I'm working on a more ad- 
vanced phase of the problem now. 
I am tracing a pattern of interlock- : 
ing violations to show that the scene 
of the end-results can be only sheer- 
est coincidence. I want to banish 
once and for all the superstition- 
stigma attached to scenes of repeat- 
ed misfortune and violence." 

"The Reamer mansion." 

"That's right. And now I must be 
going, Miss Hopstead." He gave me 
the departing smile and started for 
the door. 

"Professor Waits." 

"Yes?" 

"About Mabel Tutworthy. Did 
she really drag that buck ten miles." 

"No. It was only a fawn. And 
she killed it less than a mile from 
her cabin." 

"And the murder of Henry 
Reamer. What proof—?" 

"Nothing the police would be 
interested in. It was the end-result 
of a cause they won't understand 
until my work is published and 
given study" 



156 

He opened the door, looked 
around, smiled. "This is certainly a 
fine old building. I must bring 
Nicholas with me the next time." 

With that, he was gone. 



I FOUND myself looking forward 
to his next visit. I looked and 
looked and a month passed and a 
tall, serious-faced youth came into 
the library and waited until I'd fin- 
ished checking in Mrs. Garvey's re- 
turns. 

"I understand," he said, "that 
,rou have an immense store of local 
history in this library?" 

"The section by the south win- 
dow." 

"Thank you." He peered at me 
through thick lenses. "Thank you 
Miss—" 



ALVIN HEINER 

"—Hopstead." 

"Miss Hopstead. I am Nicholas 
Worthy. Possibly you knew a friend 
of mine. Professor Waits? I am car- 
rying on 'his work." 

"Carrying on — ? Did something 
happen to — ?" 

"Oh. Then you didn't hear. It 
was most tragic. Professor Waits 
died of pneumonia. A great loss — a 
great loss." 

I was deeply shocked. My feeling 
was that of losing a close friend. 
"No, I hadn't heard. It must have 
been very sudden." 

"It was. He was advanced in 
years, you know, and after he fell, 
pneumonia set in quickly. They 
were unable to save him." 

"The Professor had an accident?" 
, "Yes. He fell down the main 
staircase of the Reamer mansion 
and broke his hip." 



-THE END- 



Latch on to the next 



if! 



WITHOUT DOUBT, the greatest thing that's hap- 
pened to science-fiction in the last year is a young 
man named Walter Miller Jr. — the lad who writes "with 
the brilliance and fury of an angry angel". Proof of his 
ability lies in the fact that his stories are becoming harder 
and harder to acquire. But IF was lucky ! 

So don't miss LET MY PEOPLE GO, the lead novel 
in the July issue of IF, by Walter Miller Jr., on sale 
May 5th. 



m^ ^ **4*.^*Jm^ ^ «*^J0- «»-d».« 






L 



QUOTING our contemporaries 



ASTOUNDING SCIENCE FICTION 
John W. Campbell Jr. 

Because there is no distin- 
guishing mark save their own 
accomplishments, no presently- 
accepted basis of "race" distinc- 
tion makes any important sense 
whatsoever. Homo superior is 
here— but only by his works can 
you find him. Confucius, Ein- 
stein, George Washington, 
Moses, Plato, Ghristophe, the 
Black Napoleon, and Abraham 
Lincoln all belonged to one 
race, the race of Imperial Man 
— homo superior. 

And each was a mongrel 
hybrid — even as you and I! 

GALAXY 
H. L. Gold 

Good Lord the world today 
is loaded with ifs ! So crammed, 
Crowded, bulging with ifs jos- 
tling each other, in fact, that 
it's a pure bafflement to see 
writers turning the same ones 
over and over, looking for some 
new bump never before noticed 
on the use-worn surfaces. 

AMAZING STORIES 
Howard Browne 

Mary and Joe Dokes get so 
fed up with fact they want a 
few hours of escape. So they do 
what men and women have 
done for centuries. They sneak 



off into the fairy world of ro- 
mance, adventure, action . . . 
The world of dreams. A price- 
less world given us by a kindly 
Creator Who knew the going 
would get tough at times; Who 
knew there would be cold 
dreary facts to burn on this 
tired old planet and that we 
would need moments of blessed 
escape. 

STARTLING STORIES 
Samuel Mines 

Writers of fiction have aU 
ways . had stern competition 
from life, which has a way of 
being startling, fantastic and 
wonderful on its own. When 
World War II actually got Un- 
der way, after the sitzkrieg, the 
speculations of writers were 
completely eclipsed by the stun- 
ning drama of events which 
outclassed all imaginings. Many 
a writer at that point was heard 
to remark that there was ho 
Sense in making up drama, for 
it simply could not compete 
with the newspaper headlines. 

FANTASTIC ADVENTURES 
Lila Shaffer 

Thou shalt love all thy neigh- 
bors throughout the land and 
entertain them well, lest they 
stop buying thy magazine, thus 
making for long, hungry days. 



..»— —■>-—.> 



THE 
COMETH . . . 



cover. But how come no fanzine 
revues? 

— John Coleman 

It seems to us, John, that fanzines 
are pretty well covered by other 
magazines in the field. So we de- 
cided to use the space for features 
not found elsewhere. If enough fans 
tell us we're wrong, we'll change 
our policy. 



PHILLIPS IS BEST 

Dear Mr. Fairman: 

The March issue of IF was tops. 
I saw the gal with the tiger look- 
ing at me from the mag rack and I 
said to myself: "Huh! What's this? 
IF? No know." 

Then I saw Rog Phillip's name 
on the cover. Rog is one of my fa- 
vorites. I've read his "So Shall Ye 
Reap" four times. So I took a copy 
of IF home and sure 'nough! Rog's 
"Old Martians" was the best story. 
He got a mood into it that actually 
scared me, as if one of the Old 
Martians was looking over my 
shoulder. Look out, Rog. They 
might get you for showing them up. 

The rest of the ish rates thusly 
in my book. Two: "Twelve Times 
Zero." It got better as it went along. 
Think maybe it should have been 
longer. Three: "Black Eyes And 
The Daily Grind." I got a laugh 
out of Black Eyes. And the illo was 
good. Four: I guess it has to go to 
"Never Underestimate." It's real 
Sturgeon but maybe a weensy bit 
too slick. Five: The rest of the ish. 

By the way — why no illo credits 
except on the cover? The artists 
work hard too. 

All in all a fine ish with a terrific 

1 



HOWARD, TAKE A BOW 

Dear Ed : 

Something new! A science fiction 
magazine with intelligent articles. 
The one on Bob Tucker and his 
news letter was tops. Enjoyed it 
even more than the excellent 
stories. Notice you're writing up 
Palmer and the Shaver Mystery in 
your next issue. Will be watching 
for it. 

Also, congratulations to Howard 
Browne on his "Twelve Times 
Zero." He did something rarely 
done in science fiction — made it 
sound convincing. I caught myself 
almost believing it. 

— Milo Spence 



CRITICISM— 

Dear Ed: 

Picked up a copy of your maga- 
zine on the stand and figured it was 
new because I hadn't seen it be- 
fore. And I thought to myself, may- 
be this one's got something new in 
the way of writers. But no. There 
they were on the cover. The same 
old hacks who turn out ninety per- 

58 



THE POSTMAN COMETH 

cent of today's science fiction. 

Why don't you get smart and 
come up with some brand new 
names? Some writers with a fresh 
slant on? Science fiction is waiting 
for a magazine like that but it looks 
like you have missed the boat. 

This is meant as honest criticism 
and I hope you will print it but I'll 
bet you won't. 

—Janet Steiner 

Aren't you being a little hatsh, 
Janet. The writers in the March 
issue of IF are on the top of a high- 
ly competetive field. They stay there 
because they are able to produce 
good fiction. If better stories are 
submitted to IF or any contempo- 
rary magazine by new names, those 
stories are bought. The fact that 
authors like Sturgeon and Phillipi 
are in print again and again proves 
they do a better job than other 
writers new or old. We read every 
script submitted and we like new 
writers. We hope ' to buy many 
"first" stories. 



* 



— AND PRAISE 

Dear Mr. Fairman: 

Hooray for IF— it's terrif ; May- 
be you'd like to use that as a slogan. 
If so, send me a buck. Seriously, 
your magazine hit the stands with 
a bang. There were eight copies on 
the rack when I got there. I bought 
One. That night I met a friend of 
mine and sent her down to get one. 
She said there weren't any left so 
I'm going to give her mine. 

Theodore Sturgeon's story is one 
of the cutest I ever read. Imagine 



159 

if that really happened (blush* 
blush). I haven't read the cover 
story by Howard Browne yet. I'm 
writing first so as to get in line to 
win an original manuscript. Yum- 
my! And keep IF coming! 

— Nora Parsons 

We certainly will keep IF com- 
ing, Nora. And we hope you *,win 
one of the manuscripts. Let us know 
what you think of Twelve Times 
Zero. 



SORRY 

Dear Ed: 

How come no artist's names ex- 
cept the cover? Who ever heard of 
a science fiction book, or any other 
fiction book, without the names of 
the artists? 

— Paul Liebowitz 



WE LIKED IT TOO 

Dear Ed : 

"Of Stegner's Folly" was great — 
just like the old days. Hang onto 
Shaver and you're in. For my 
money, anyhow. 

— Art Wister 



That's all the letters we have 
room for this trip. We'll arrange for 
more space in the future. Incident 
ally, the winners of our manuscript 
contest will be announced in July 
issue — on the stands May 5th. Bet- 
ter have your news dealers reserve 
a copy. 



PUZZLE DOERS . 






V5> 




^ 



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THE 

magazine 

THAT'S 



rea 




WHO 



was th is 
man? . . . 
At the age of three his 
cradle moved in a 
queer manner. At ten 
he caused his oafmeal 
bowl to skip about the 
table and furniture to 
be lifted by unseen 
hands. At thirteen he 
was prophesying events 
with alarming accuracy. 
At twenty-five he as- 
tounded the world with 
his supernatural pow- 
ers. . . Read about this 
amazing person in The 
Fabulous Circles of 
Nine in the May issue 
of STRANGE — now at 
all newsstands — 35 
cents.